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Ulta soars — online and in store


Ulta Beauty turned in what could be the best retail performance of the first quarter, posting strong brick-and-mortar and online growth and results that easily topped estimates. The company boosted its guidance for the year.

Ulta’s net sales for the quarter, ended May 2, surged 23.7% to $1.07 billion, up from $868.1 million in the year-ago period, and surpassing estimates for $1.03 billion. E-commerce sales shot up 38.8% to $61.0 million from $44.0 million last year.

Same-store sales, which includes Ulta’s e-commerce sales, surged 15.2% compared to an increase of 11.4% in the first quarter of fiscal 2015. The sales increase was driven by 11.0% growth in traffic and 4.2% growth in average ticket.

Net income increased 37.4% to $92.0 million compared to $66.9 million last year, The company posted earnings of $1.45 per share, crushing estimates of $1.29 per share.

“We are off to a phenomenal start to the year, delivering excellent top and bottom line growth in the first quarter,” said Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty. “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.”

Ulta ended the first quarter with 886 stores and square footage of 9,348,577, which represents an 11% increase in square footage compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

The company raised its guidance, with plans to achieve comparable sales growth of approximately 10% to 12%, compared to previous guidance of 8% to 10%, and to increase total sales in the high teens percentage range, compared to previous guidance of mid to high teens percentage range. It upped its earnings per share growth forecast to the low twenties percentage range, compared to previous guidance of 18% to 20%, citing such factors as the impact of its new Dallas distribution center and the accelerated rollout of prestige brand boutiques.

In addition, Ulta plans to grow e-commerce sales in the 40% range and expand square footage by approximately 11% with the opening of 100 net new stores.
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