Ralph Lauren shares sink nearly 7% as growth slows
Ralph Lauren Corp. shares were down 6.8% in Tuesday trading after reporting fiscal second-quarter earnings that beat expectations, but not by as much as recent reports. "Ralph Lauren did beat, but relative to the past two-to-three years the beat was fairly subdued (EBIT [earnings before interest and taxes] beat by 3%, however this is the smallest beat in three years and compare to the 12-24 month average of +10%)," Wells Fargo wrote in a note. "This is also occurring as Ralph Lauren's 'core' gross margin expansion is now moderating." Wells Fargo rates Ralph Lauren stock market perform with a $130 price target. CFRA downgraded Ralph Lauren to sell from hold. "[M]uch progress in reviving North America (up 1%) and tightening inventories (up 15%) remains to be made," Camilla Yanusshevsky wrote in a note. Ralph Lauren also changed its same-store sales metric from a comparison based on stores operating "at least one full fiscal year" to "at least 13 full fiscal months," which CFRA finds suspicious. "In our view, the definition change may be an indication that new stores are underperforming," Yanusshevsky wrote. During the quarter, Ralph Lauren opened 36 new stores and concessions around the world and closed 28 locations, according to Patrice Louvet, Ralph Lauren's chief executive, who spoke on the earnings call. Ralph Lauren shares have rallied nearly 23% in 2018 while the S&P 500 index is up 2.7% for the period. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.