Ulta Continues Impressive Fiscal Record, 22% Sales Increase for 2011

Ulta Beauty announced financial results for the 13-week period fourth quarter and 52-week period (its fiscal year) ended Jan. 28, 2012, which compares to the same period ended Jan. 29, 2011.

For the fourth quarter, net sales increased 23% to $582.5 million, up from $473.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010; and comparable store sales increased 11.5%, compared to an increase of 10.4% in the fourth quarter of 2010. Also, operating income increased 49.5% to $73.2 million, or 12.6% of net sales, and net income increased 53.8% to $46.3 million, up from fourth quarter 2010’s $30.1 million. Also during the fourth quarter, the company opened seven new stores, with two new locations in Illinois, and one new store opening in states including New Jersey, North Dakota, Alabama, Texas and New York, representing a 16% increase in square footage compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

For fiscal 2011, Ulta reported a net sales increase of 22.1% to $1,776.2 million, up from $1,454.8 million in fiscal 2010; and comparable store sales increased 10.9% compared to an increase of 11% in fiscal 2010. Operating income increased 65% to $196.2 million, or 11% of net sales, compared to $118.9 million, and net income increased 69.3% to $120.3 million compared to $71.0 million in fiscal 2010.

Chuck Rubin, Ulta president and CEO, stated, “Our positive momentum continued in the fourth quarter and concluded another outstanding year of growth at Ulta Beauty. We grew market share across all major categories in the fourth quarter and fiscal year, demonstrating the ongoing strength of our store experience, our superior customer service and the excitement we bring our guests in new products, brands, services, in-store events and only at Ulta exclusives. Our store expansion continued favorably and included the opening of 61 new stores in the fiscal year for square footage expansion of 16%. Combined, these achievements fueled more than a 20% increase in net sales and double digit comparable store sales growth for the year. We continue to leverage our infrastructure as we grow and deliver significant free cash flow. To this point, we expanded operating margin by 280 basis points to reach 11% of net sales in 2011, moving us closer to our mid-teen operating margin goal. We are very proud of our accomplishments this year and equally confident about our ability to continue our success in fiscal 2012 and long term.”

“As we look forward into 2012 and beyond, we are focused on building upon our successful strategies and determining priorities for the strong cash position we have developed,” Rubin continued. “Given the attractive returns from our new store program, we are further accelerating our square footage growth in 2012 to approximately 22%, or 100 new locations. In recognition of our expectations of generating significant free cash flow in 2012, while investing in approximately 100 new stores and the people and infrastructure to support our growth, our board of directors has decided to return a portion of capital to our shareholders by way of a $1.00 per share special cash dividend. We will continue to evaluate the appropriate use of cash generated in our business to maximize returns for shareholders.”

For the first quarter of fiscal 2012, Ulta reported that the company currently expects net sales in the range of $452–460 million, compared to actual net sales of $386 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2011. This assumes comparable stores sales increase 6–8%, compared to an 11.1% increase last year.

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