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Ulta Beauty sees sales surge in 1Q

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BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Ulta Beauty posted robust sales and earnings gains for its fiscal 2016 first quarter.

The beauty care retailer said last week that net sales for the quarter ended May 2 surged 23.7% year over year to nearly $1.074 billion.

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Comparable sales, including stores and e-commerce, were up 15.2% for the period, fueled by an 11.4% increase in traffic and 4.2% growth in the average ticket, the company reported.

Retail comparable sales rose 13.9% for the first quarter, including a 7.7% gain in salon comparable sales.

“We are off to a phenomenal start to the year, delivering excellent top- and bottom-line growth in the first quarter,” said Ulta chief executive officer Mary Dillon said in a statement. “Several positive factors are coming together to drive the momentum in our business, exemplified by the best comparable-sales growth in our history as a public company. These include healthy consumer demand in the beauty category, our unique format and offering — which are supporting sustained share gains — and effective collaboration across the enterprise to ensure strong execution of our growth strategies.”

On the earnings side, first-quarter net income came in at $92 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, compared with $66.9 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, a year earlier. That topped the consensus analyst earnings estimate of $1.29 per share.

Ulta said it opened 13 stores stores in the 2016 first quarter and ended the period with 886 stores overall in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Looking ahead, Ulta raised its guidance for the full 2016 fiscal year. The company said it now projects comparable-sales growth of 10% to 12%, compared with its previous guidance of 8% to 10%, and total sales growth in the high teens, versus its earlier estimate of the mid- to high teens. Earnings-per-share (EPS) growth for the year is forecast in the low 20s percentage range, compared with the prior guidance of 18% to 20%.

Analysts, on average, estimate Ulta’s fiscal 2016 EPS at $6.12, with projections ranging from a low of $5.95 to a high of $6.23, according to Thomson Financial. The company’s fiscal 2015 EPS came in at $4.98.


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