Carter's Inc. Earnings Stand Tall (Again)

Ever the well-dressed overachiever, Carter's just beat expectations for at least its seventh consecutive quarter. By 10:50 a.m., the stock was up 7%.

For its fiscal first quarter, the kids' clothing specialist's revenue climbed 5.1% year over year to $684.8 million. This result was driven primarily by growth in its U.S. Carter's and OshKosh direct-to-consumer, or DTC, businesses, and held back again by the negative impact of foreign currency exchange. Excluding currencies, Carter's net sales would have risen 6%.

Adjusted operating income rose 24.5% to $87.3 million, which translated to 29.7% growth in adjusted net income to $11.8 million. Adjusted net income per diluted share rose 32.7% to $0.97, bolstered in part by Carter's repurchase and retirement of 157,900 shares of common stock for $14.1 million during the quarter. Carter's also noted it had repurchased a total of 240,400 shares for $21.8 million year to date as of yesterday, leaving roughly $163 million under its current repurchase authorization.

Analysts, on average, had only expected Carter's to earn $0.74 per share on sales of $674.2 million. To be fair, even that seemed optimistic relative to Carter's guidance from its previousquarterly report.At the time, the company called for first-quarter revenue to rise just 3% to $671 million, and for adjusted earnings of $0.73 per diluted share.

The numbersDigging deeper into the rack, Carter's retail segment sales increased 11.9% year over year to $257.7 million. Within that, the DTC business boosted comparable sales by 0.7%, including continued strength in online comps at 8.1% and a comparable sales decline of 1.2% at retail stores. Carter's also opened 20 new retail stores during the quarter, closed two, and ended the three-month period with 549 locations in the United States. Meanwhile, Carter's wholesale segment sales fell 0.9% to $269.3 million.

Next, the smaller OshKosh B'gosh retail segment enjoyed sales growth of 14.9% to $73 million. For that, investors can thank a combination of eight net new retail locations, a 1.5% increase in comps at retail stores, and 20.3% comparable sales growth online. Overall DTC comparable-store sales for OshKosh increased 5.2%. At the end of the quarter, Carter's operated 208 OshKosh locations in the U.S.

International segment sales fell 2.7% to $68.6 million, as growth in Carter's Canada retail and e-commerce businesses was more than offset by a combination of its exit from retail operations in Japan last year, the bankruptcy of Target Canada in January, and foreign currency exchange rates. On a constant currency basis, Carter's international segment would have increased net sales by 5.2%. With that in mind, Canadian comparable retail store sales rose 7% on strength in both Carter's- and OshKosh-branded products. Carter's also opened three new retail stores in Canada over the quarter, ending the period with 127 locations there.

They grow up so fastLooking forward, Carter's expects current-quarter net sales to increase 6% year over year, with adjusted earnings per diluted share remaining roughly flat at $0.61. Wall Street, for its part, was modeling higher second-quarter revenue and adjusted earnings of $610.6 million and $0.66 per share, respectively.

For full-year 2015, Carter's left its existing guidance intact for revenue to grow roughly 5% over 2014, with adjusted earnings growth of 10% to 14%. Analysts were predicting slightly higher 5.5% revenue growth for the year, with adjusted earnings growth at the high end of the company's range at 13.7%.

Of course, it's hard to blame them for their optimism considering Carter's so consistently outpaces their models. So it should come as no surprise Carter's stock is up nicely as of this writing despite the company's "light" guidance. All things considered, this was another solid report from a steadily growing company, and I think investors have every right to celebrate.

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Steve Symington owns shares of Apple. He ironically named his youngest son "Carter," and spends an unsettling amount of money on Carter at Carter's. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Carter's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Carter's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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