Ulta sees solid double-digit sales gains during holiday season

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Beauty retailer Ulta Beauty posted a same-store sales increase of 12.6% during the seven-week holiday period.

Total net sales for the seven-week holiday period, from Nov. 13 to Dec. 31, were $386 million, a 24.4% increase from the prior-year holiday period of $310.4 million. Comparable store-sales for the 2011 holiday period increased 12.6%, compared with a 9.5% increase during the same period in the prior year. Over a two-year period, comparable store sales increased 22.1%.

”We delivered an excellent holiday season, with comparable store sales growth of 12.6% balanced across categories and brands, continuing our strong momentum from the first nine months of the year. We believe, once again, that we gained market share across our major categories driven by our consistent ability to capitalize on current trends and introduce newness, elevate our guest experience with exciting in-store events and traffic-driving communications to our loyal customer base,” Ulta president and CEO Chuck Rubin said. “This combined with our great value proposition and strong customer service led to another successful holiday season. As a result of our better-than-expected performance, we have raised our fourth quarter outlook and now expect to report full year fiscal 2011 diluted earnings per share in a range of $1.84 to $1.85, an increase of approximately 59% compared to fiscal year 2010.”

In light of the favorable holiday sales, the company is increasing its fourth quarter fiscal 2011 outlook provided in conjunction with its third quarter fiscal 2011 results on Dec. 1.

The company now expects fourth quarter fiscal 2011 net sales in the range of $574 million to $579 million, compared with its previous guidance of $552 million to $562 million. Fourth quarter fiscal 2010 net sales were $473.7 million. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 are now expected to increase in a range of 10% to 11%. This compares with the company’s previous expectation for comparable store sales to increase in a range of 6% to 8%. Fourth quarter fiscal 2010 comparable sales increased 10.4%. This updated sales guidance range results in a two-year comparable store sales increase of 20.4% to 21.4%.

Income per diluted share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 is now estimated in the range of 67 cents to 68 cents, as compared with the company’s previous guidance of 62 cents to 64 cents, and actual fiscal 2010 income per diluted share was 49 cents.

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