Polo Ralph Lauren Profit Jumps in 3Q on U.S., European Sales

Sending its shares to a 52-week high, Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL) revealed on Wednesday a stronger-than-expected 51% increase in third-quarter profit, lifted by stronger domestic and European volumes, and continued focus on its operations in Asia.

The New York-based company posted net income of $168 million, or $1.72 a share, compared with $111 million, or $1.10 a share, in the same quarter last year, trumping average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.29 a share.

Revenue for the men’s, women’s and children’s apparel retailer was $1.49 billion, up 24% from $1.19 billion a year ago, and ahead of Wall Street’s view of $1.29 billion.

“Our exceptional third quarter and year to date results confirm we are gaining substantial and profitable market share around the world,” said Roger Farah, Ralph Lauren’s chief operating officer. “Our teams are effectively executing against bold long-term growth strategies across products, channels and regions while managing the day-to-day with incredible precision.”

Sales were helped primarily by higher global wholesale shipments and climbing worldwide retail sales. Wholesale sales climbed 21% year-over-year, driven by increased domestic and European shipments for core apparel products as well as domestic accessories. Retail rose 29%, assisted by both comparable and new stores.

Given the strong results the company, which directly operates 376 stores, doubled its quarterly dividend to 20 cents a share, authorized an additional $250 million stock repurchase program and raised its full-year view. Ralph Lauren now expects its fiscal 2011 margin rate to be equivalent to 2010 levels.