Ulta Beauty Shares Rise as Stimulus, Confidence Lift Outlook

Ulta Beauty Inc. reported first-quarter comparable sales that beat expectations, showing that makeup usage is making a recovery.

  • Comparable sales, a key metric for retailers, rose 66% for the quarter -- above the 39% average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
  • The beauty retailer raised its outlook for 2021, with net sales now seen in a range of $7.7 billion to $7.8 billion, an increase of about $500 million at each end, and comparable sales up 23% to 25%, compared from its earlier prediction of no more than 17%

Key Insights

  • “The Ulta Beauty team delivered an outstanding start to the year, with sales and earnings exceeding fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019 first quarter levels,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Dillon, who will be stepping down from her role after June 2, said in a statement. She’ll be taking over as executive chair, with President Dave Kimbell assuming her role.
  • Ulta attributed the rise in sales to “improving consumer confidence, government stimulus payments and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.” Sales are expected to continue to rise as vaccination rates rise and the U.S. economy reopens after the long period of Covid lockdowns.

Market Reaction

  • The shares rose as much as 6.1% in after-market trading Thursday. The stock has climbed about 14% so far this year through the market close.

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