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Ulta's Holiday Season Sales Soar

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Illinois-based Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. (ULTA - Free Report) turned up with yet another sturdy sales number for the seven-week period starting from the week before Thanksgiving through the end of the week of Christmas. Ulta Salon, which sells cosmetics, fragrance, haircare and other beauty products, added market share during this holiday season across all its segments with skincare and cosmetics topping the list.

Net sales for the holiday period soared 23.2% year over year to $475.6 million driven by a rise in comparable store sales, which escalated 7.4% over 12.6% reported in the prior-year period. Over a two-year holiday period, comparable store sales surged 20.0%.  

The largest beauty retailer that provides a one-stop shop for prestige, mass and salon products and services in the U.S. reported strong sales during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. While sales dipped in the initial days of December, it again picked up during Christmas.

We believe, gaining high single digit comp growth was quite an achievement in the face of waning consumer confidence due to the uncertainty regarding the fiscal cliff in the U.S., which must have kept consumers busy and away from discretionary activities.

The company, which operates 550 retail stores in 45 states continued to introduce exciting merchandising and marketing plans as well as new product offerings across all categories to attract customers. A successful loyalty program and extended marketing reach also went in tandem with value-minded customers during this holiday period.

Ulta, a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) stock, is witnessing winning momentum since the last couple of quarters with an average earnings surprise of 5.12% in the trailing twelve months period and hopes to finish the year on a high note.

Ulta Salon, however, reiterated its expectation for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. For the fourth quarter, Ulta expects earnings per share between 96–98 cents, significantly higher than 73 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Net sales are estimated in the range of $742–$754 million based on comparable store sales growth of 5% to 7%. For fiscal 2012, the company projects earnings per share in the range of $2.64–$2.66.

On the other hand, one of its major competitors Regis Corp. is reeling under pressure with continued sluggish traffic. Regis delivered 17 straight quarters of negative same-store sales. Furthermore, the absence of the 2013 guidance also indicates lack of visibility in the near term.

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