Upscale leather goods maker Coach Inc (COH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) posted higher-than-expected earnings and sales for the holiday quarter, helped by its growing favor with male shoppers, and its shares rose more than 6 percent.
Sales at North American stores open at least a year rose 8.8 percent during the quarter as shoppers bought luxury items like Coach-branded leather handbags and wallets despite question marks about the economy. The company expects double-digit growth in same-store sales the second half of its fiscal year.
While best known for its women's handbags, including its lower-priced Poppy collection, Coach is courting men actively. During the second quarter ended on December 31, the company opened two more men's stores, bringing the total to five, while sales of men's items made up about 8 percent of its total.
Chief Executive Officer Lew Frankfort told Reuters the men's business could reach well north of 10 percent of sales in time. About half of the men's sales came from items like briefcases and business totes.
Coach expects its men's business to double to $400 million in sales this fiscal year, which ends in June. Analysts expect total company revenue to reach $4.73 billion in fiscal 2012.
Frankfort later said on a conference call that the men's business could even hit $1 billion in three to five years.
The New York-based company also got a hand from China, where the emerging middle class is creating a new set of consumers for Western luxury brands such as Coach and Tiffany & Co (TIF.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
In China, overall sales were up by a double-digit percentage rate in the latest quarter, and Coach reiterated its earlier forecast for sales of $300 million in that market this fiscal year.
Coach's gross profit margin declined a bit in the quarter, to 72.2 percent from 72.4 percent, but benefited from efforts to produce more goods in lower-cost countries like Vietnam and India. Frankfort said he expected gross margin to improve modestly in the second half of the fiscal year.
Overall revenue in the second quarter rose 14.6 percent to $1.45 billion, just above the $1.43 billion Wall Street analysts were expecting.
Net income was $347.5 million, or $1.18 per share, compared with $303.4 million, or $1.00 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting $1.15 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Coach shares were up 6.1 percent at $68.16 in morning trading.