May 13, 2010
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Urban Outfitters' first quarter beat fails to impress investors

May 13, 2010

By Nivedita Bhattacharjee

BANGALORE, May 13 (Reuters) - First-quarter profit at Urban Outfitters Inc (URBN.O) rose 72 percent and just about managed to top market estimates, but investors expecting more pulled the stock down as much as 5 percent.

Urban Outfitters - www.urbanoutfitters.com

The company, which pre-announced strong sales last week, also did not give out much color on quarterly trends till date, prompting some squeamishness about future performance.

"I think investors are a little disappointed that the beat was not larger," Wedbush Securities analyst Betty Chen said.

Urban's shares were down 4 percent at $37.77 Thursday 13 May on Nasdaq.

"In putting the pieces together, the market -- already concerned about the sustainability of the consumer revival -- may be saying that with increased upfront expenses and tougher earnings comparisons... upside potential is less of a probable outcome," Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi said.

The company, which operates stores in the United States, Canada and Europe, expects to open roughly 45 new stores during the fiscal year.

Urban's bohemian clothes and home accessories remained a favorite with shoppers even when consumer spending was nose-diving, and with the economy on the mend now, the company saw sales rise 25 percent during the first quarter.

Philadelphia-based Urban, which had reported first-quarter revenue of $480 million on May 6, posted earnings of $53 million, or 31 cents a share -- a penny above Wall Street's estimates of 30 cents a share.

The operator of the Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People chains saw gross profit margins improve by 459 basis points.

Upscale retailers, ranging from jeweler Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) to department store owner Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) and Urban's clothing store Anthropologie, have seen sales improve as high-income shoppers grow more confident in the economy. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anthony Kurian)

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