Ralph Lauren Falls After Sales Forecast Trails Estimates

Ralph Lauren Corp. dropped in New York trading after forecasting first-quarter sales that would be less than analysts’ estimated.

The shares fell 2.1 percent to $148.81 at the close. New York-based Ralph Lauren has fallen 16 percent this year, compared with a 1.6 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Sales in the quarter through June will rise as much as 5 percent, the company said today in a statement, implying revenue of about $1.74 billion. Analysts estimated $1.81 billion, on average.

Retailers have been deepening discounts and seeking to create new styles to attract shoppers amid shaky consumer confidence and flagging mall traffic. Ralph Lauren said sales at stores open at least a year fell 2 percent in the quarter through March 29, hurt by unseasonably cold weather.

Net income rose 20 percent to $153 million, or $1.68 a share, topping analysts’ $1.63 average projection. Revenue advanced 14 percent to $1.87 billion.

Ralph Lauren said revenue in the current year will increase 6 percent to 8 percent while its operating margin will narrow as it continues spending to add stores. The company plans to open 40 to 45 locations this year, a pace it will maintain in the next several years, Chief Financial Officer Chris Peterson said on a conference call today with analysts.

Ralph Lauren intends to build 100 to 200 new Polo brand stores worldwide, selling both men and women’s clothing, President Jacki Nemerov said on the call.

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