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Ulta Beauty on fire in Q4; opening 80 stores in 2019

BY Marianne Wilson

Ulta Beauty on Thursday reported results for its fourth quarter that beat the Street amid a surge in store traffic and online sales.

The beauty giant also confirmed previously announced plans to open about 80 new stores in fiscal 2019. In addition it will undertake some 20 remodel or relocation projects and complete approximately 270 store refreshes.

Ulta’s net sales increased 9.7% to $2.12 billion in the quarter ended Feb.2, compared to $1. 93 billion in the year-ago period, which had an extra week. The Street had expected sales of $2.11 billion.

Same-store sales increased 9.4%, driven by 7.1% transaction growth and 2.3% growth in average ticket. Retail comparable sales increased 7.0%, including salon comparable sales growth of 6.2%. Online comparable sales increased 25.1%.

Net income increased 3.1% to $214.7 million compared to $208.2 million. Earnings per share increased 6.2% to $3.61. Analysts had expected earnings of $3.56 a share.

“The Ulta Beauty team delivered excellent results in the fourth quarter,” said Mary Dillon, CEO. “This performance reflects an acceleration in comparable sales in our retail stores, primarily driven by traffic. We continued to gain significant share across all major categories, particularly with digitally native brands where Ulta Beauty is often the only point of distribution in brick-and-mortar. Solid execution by our merchandising, store operations, e-commerce, marketing, supply chain and systems teams drove healthy sales growth and a differentiated guest experience throughout the important holiday season.”

For the full year, net sales increased 14.1% to $6. 71 billion million over fiscal 2017, which had an extra week. Same-store increased 8.1%. Retail comparable sales increased 5.1%, including salon comparable sales growth of 3.6%. E-commerce comparable sales increased 35.4%.

As of February 2, 2019, Ulta Beauty operates 1,174 retail stores across 50 states.

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