Fort Wayne, IN—No wonder the colorful florals associated with Vera Bradley keep getting the attention of the suits on Wall Street: on Wednesday, the accessories company posted a 41% jump in its fourth quarter earnings as sales surged in its own stores and online.
For the quarter ended Jan. 28, Vera Bradley reported a profit of $20.1 million, or 50 cents a share, up from $14.2 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier. That beat analysts’ average estimate expecting earnings of 47 cents a share.
Total net revenue rose 23% to $134.5 million lead by direct sales from Vera Bradley stores which account for a growing share of the brand’s business. Direct sales, which include its 48 brand stores, 8 outlets and online, increased 46% to $81.2 million with comparable store sales up 9.3%. E-commerce revenue grew 28%.
Indirect sales, which include some 3,300 specialty store retailers, were off 0.7% to $53.3 million. The company attributed the decline to its efforts to get product into retailers well ahead of the holiday season, which resulted in more sales falling into third quarter rather than its fourth quarter.
Gross margin remained relatively unchanged at 56.4% compared to 56.5% in the same period a year ago.
‘Growth in Underpenetrated Markets’
For its full fiscal 2012 year, Vera Bradley reported a 31% increase in its profit to $57.9 million, or $1.43 a share, up from $44.2 million, or $1.20 a share, in fiscal 2011.
“The strength and appeal of our brand and our product portfolio, our significant multi-channel capabilities, and the ongoing loyalty of our customers, resulted in solid growth in all of our distribution channels during the year,” said Michael Ray, ceo. “Looking ahead, we remain excited about our prospects as we continue to execute our growth strategies, which include expanding our product offerings and growing in underpenetrated markets.”
But some analysts’ were disappointed with the company’s first quarter forecast for earnings of 27 to 29 cents a share on sales between $115 million to $117 million. Analysts’ average estimate expects 32 cents a share on sales of $117 million.
However, the company has been known to give conservative forecasts in the past, only to beat them—this fourth quarter a perfect example. In December, Vera Bradley predicted fourth quarter earnings between 44 to 47 cents, which it handily.
For its full fiscal 2013, the company now forecast earnings in the range of $1.68 to $1.71 a share on sales between $540 million to $545 million. Analysts’ average estimate expects earnings of $1.71 a share on sales of $536.5 million.
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