It's that time again, boys and girls. This Thursday before the market opens, children's clothing specialist Carter's (NYSE:CRI) will deliver what could be its ninth consecutive quarterly earnings beat -- and if my own family's copious spending at our local Carter's store is any indication, I sure like its chances.
For perspective, Carter's most recent guidance calls for 7% year-over-year growth in revenue to $854.9 million, and a 10% to 15% increase in adjusted earnings per share to a range of $1.40 to $1.46. By comparison, consensus estimates predict that lower revenue of $851.9 million will translate to earnings at the high end of Carter's expected range.
But Carter's is about more than just revenue and earnings. So let's dig in to see what, exactly, will drive those results.
A tale of two brands
First, note that Carter's repurchased nearly 350,000 shares of common stock last quarter for $34.8 million and ended the quarter with around $126 million remaining under its current authorization. With shares down around 18% since last quarter's solid report, don't be surprised if the company took advantage and bought back more stock in Q3.
Next, remember that Carter's owns both its namesake stores and the complementary OshKosh brand. Each business will be further broken down to detail their respective retail and wholesale segment performances.
The retail operations of both brands have effectively led the way in terms of growth so far in 2015. Last quarter, Carter's retail segment sales rose 5.7% to comprise over 40% of the company's total sales, driven by a combination of 53 net new locations over the past year and direct-to-consumer comparable sales growth of 1.1%. Included in the latter figure was a 26.5% increase in Carter's e-commerce sales, and a 4% decline in comps at bricks-and-mortar retail locations.
Meanwhile, OshKosh retail enjoyed an 8.8% increase in revenue last quarter to around 12% of total revenue, helped by its 34 of its own new locations and 3.3% comparable sales growth. Similar to Carter's retail, comps for OshKosh included 36.2% e-commerce comparable sales growth, and a 2.6% decline in comparable sales at retail locations.
In either case, it seems fair to expect Carter's will reveal another contrasting retail performance -- at least in terms of comps -- between physical stores and online platforms in Q3.
Next, though their wholesale counterparts had underperformed in previous quarters, Carter's wholesale segment last quarter grew a respectable 5.8% to comprise around 35% of sales, thanks to strong demand overall, a new playwear initiative, and -- perhaps most important leading into this week's release -- a positive response from shoppers to its fall product launches. Listen closely, then, for any indications of whether Carter's Wholesale was able to maintain its momentum in Q3.
In the much smaller OshKosh Wholesale side last quarter, sales climbed an even more impressive 22.8% to $14.3 million. But that growth was largely due to timing and earlier demand for fall launches than in the same year-ago period, and OshKosh Wholesale still comprised only around 2.3% of total sales. Going into this quarter, management warned that Oshkosh wholesale segment bookings will be down by the low single digits, and sales will probably decline around 12% year over year as a result.
Early international efforts
Finally, Carter's international business should continue to post significant growth in Q3 but will probably be held back in the face of continued foreign exchange headwinds. Last quarter, for example, International sales rose 8.4% to represent 10.8% of total revenue but would have grown a much more impressive 17% had it not been for currencies.
In particular, Carter's management has been pleased with the momentum of the business in Canada, where it opened six stores last quarter and brought the total to 133. Canada is also driving significant early growth in international e-commerce, sales from which tripled year over year last quarter to $3 million. Investors should also listen this quarter for updates on Carter's recently launched Chinese e-commerce business on Tmall, which had enjoyed an encouraging initial response from Chinese shoppers as of last quarter's report.
In the end, whether Carter's puts all the pieces together to beat expectations yet again remains to be seen. But at the very least, we'll be left with a fairly straightforward report to help us assess Carter's continued progress to sustain growth, bolster profitability, and create shareholder value in the process.