Ralph Lauren results top estimates as shoppers snap up Polos, pricey sweaters

Ralph Lauren Fall 22 collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan, New York City

By Deborah Mary Sophia

(Reuters) -Ralph Lauren Corp beat profit estimates and reported a surprise rise in fourth-quarter revenue on Thursday as its new seasonal collections resonated with affluent shoppers at a time when luxury spending has cooled in the United States.

The company’s shares rose nearly 8% after it also posted a more than 30% jump in sales in China, with demand in the key luxury market rebounding sharply.

While overall U.S. luxury spending has taken a hit, Ralph Lauren’s moves to double down on its outdoor wear and women’s clothing collections have drawn more shoppers.

Strong demand for its cable-knit sweaters and Polos have also helped the company keep promotions minimal, with quarterly revenue in North America, its biggest market, decreasing a smaller-than-expected 3%.

Ralph Lauren’s core higher-income customer base has been resilient, even in North America, Chief Executive Patrice Louvet said.

“(The) more value-oriented consumers are a smaller part of our customer base and getting smaller and smaller, as we bring in more higher-value consumers.”

Meanwhile, luxury companies ranging from LVMH and Gucci-owner Kering to Coach handbag maker Tapestry have flagged softer demand in the United States.

“Ralph Lauren has been running a really good business on all fronts, so even in a volatile sort of time, they’ve been able to have a decent performance,” said Jessica Ramirez, senior analyst at Jane Hali and Associates.

The company’s Asia segment revenue rose 13% to $390 million.

Fourth-quarter net revenue increased 1% to $1.54 billion, compared with analysts’ estimates of a drop to $1.47 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Excluding items, Ralph Lauren earned 90 cents per share, beating estimates of 61 cents.

The company forecast fiscal 2024 revenue to increase in the low-single digit range, on a constant currency basis. Analysts are expecting a 5.6% rise to $6.73 billion.

(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)