Coach, Inc. Earnings Call Nuggets: Comp Store Sales, Long-Term Gross Margin Profile

On Tuesday, Coach, Inc. (NYSE:COH) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what you need to know.

Comp Store Sales

Robert Drbul – Barclays Capital: Victor and Mike, I just want to congratulate you on your promotions and best of luck with the additional responsibilities. First question that I have Lew is…

Michael Tucci – President, Retail Division – North America: Thank you, Bob.

Robert Drbul – Barclays Capital: …can you talk a little bit about how you plan to continue to drive comp store sales and differentiate from the competition going forward given the competitive set of the category currently?

Lew Frankfort – Chairman and CEO: Sure. Well, let me first say, the category continues to grow worldwide and here in the U.S. it’s growing on at about a 10% level on the Women’s side, and on the Men’s side, of course, at a faster level. We are dual-gender brand, and while our growth on the Women’s side are equaled (indiscernible) during the last quarter, our overall growth exceeded the dual-gender growth in premium bags and accessories. So, there is a lot of opportunity, first, with regard to Men’s as Mike indicated, and our business is on track to double to over $400 million this year globally, which represents about 8% of our sales. We believe next year it will be well in excess of 10% of our business and we are accelerating the introduction of Men’s into a much broader range of our full-price stores and shop-in-shops worldwide. So, we’re looking to capitalize on the growing category and on the strength of product offering, and, of course, our growing brand loyalty in this category. Secondly and more broadly on the product front, as Mike indicated and we’ve talked about many times, Bob, we’re launching Legacy, which is a global lifestyle brand concept which is dual-gender and we are using that to replatform our full-price stores, and we have enormous optimism for what that group is going to do. Mike mentioned our pilots are doing really well. So, a combination of Men’s and the replatforming on the Women’s side to really focus on a Legacy. And of course, internationally, we have an enormous opportunity with the much larger role that Men’s plays in market such as China to truly establish ourselves as a dual-gender brand. The digital side should also be referenced. We’re so excited about the progress we’ve made in this last year to harness its power and to really give consumers an opportunity to shop wherever they choose to shop, and with our very robust 15 million database in North America, it gives us great, great opportunities.

Long-Term Gross Margin Profile

David Schick – Stifel Nicolaus: Question is really around the sourcing work and the pricing strategy that you’re putting into place now and I guess have been. What does that mean to the long-term gross margin profile of the business? Would prior gross margin peaks like 78% be achievable over a longer term planning horizon?

Jane Nielsen – EVP and CFO: Yeah, David, I think that right now we’re comfortable with our guidance which says that we’ll continue to see margin expansion in the fourth quarter and that we’ll be about similar levels to FY ’11 and as is our custom, we’ll come back in the fourth quarter and give you our best outlook for FY ’13. As always we continue to look for initiatives such as counter sourcing, designing into cost, putting our manufacturing base, diversifying it outside of China, these are ongoing initiatives that we continue to focus on to drive gross margin and we’re very happy with the results that we’ve seen in our results in the factory initiative.

What are the Key Themes in Gold?>>

Michael Tucci – President, Retail Division – North America: Just to elaborate a little bit on the pricing piece of the margin equation here, we spend a lot of time on the sourcing and supply side to really work through our scale, our unit advantages, the tremendous work that Jerry and his team have done to build-in costing opportunity, and what we saw with the all-store discounting is sort of a blanket effect on promotional stance in factory stores. And with the underlying strength in the business coming out of Q2, we really made the determination that we could get away from that, and leverage cost savings by being more targeted in the way that we market to our consumer and offer value to the consumer in the factory channel. We still had very strong productivity gains there, strong comps, and we were able to build in margin advantage taking advantage of the costing opportunities that existed. So we believe that it is long-term. We’re working it every day. We continue to probe and test for ideas around how we can play. We realize that factory is a value channel and we’ll continue to be aggressive there, but the early gains for us around margin and maintaining strong productivity are very attractive and we want to push hard as we move into the fall season to really take advantage of that.