Urban Outfitters Earnings Call Nuggets: Investment Details and Progress Outlook

Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Investment Details

Kimberly Greenberger – Morgan Stanley: I wanted to ask about some of the investments that you’re making here in 2013, and we’re assuming that there’ll be ongoing investments continuing into 2014. Could you just help us understand in sort of large buckets to the extent that you can, which items – what kind of capital projects are you looking to invest in, and where do you see the biggest bang for the buck in terms of allocating some incremental SG&A dollars to your budget, either where have you started to see that as you’ve been spending more money there and where do you expect to see it in the future?

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Richard A. Hayne – Chairman, President and CEO: Kimberly, I’m going to take a shot at and let Frank come in and probably finish. I think the two main buckets that I look at is in merchandising and designs and that’s talent; and the second one is around marketing and marketing both hard and soft. So, hard marketing is the segmentation personalization and data analytics that we discussed and soft marketing is around content and how to – a perfect example of that is the investment we made in FP Me, the Free People Brand. And so those are the main areas that I think are going drive the most incremental business to the direct channel. Of course, we’re still driving a lot of business in the bricks and mortar side by investing in retail stores. So those of the primary areas. And I know we’re doing a lot in the area of technology but we’re also doing a lot in the home office and that actually may consume more capital dollars. Frank, do you have any further thing to say about that?

Frank J. Conforti – CFO: No, Dick is correct in that the majority of our SG&A spend is more around headcount and marketing initiatives. So, it’s headcount that support the marketing initiatives around customer analytics, data segmentation and other marketing initiatives, more so than any capital itself. The technology piece that rolls into SG&A is capital and that’s around initiatives here to support different functionality on our website. We are we are launching a Free People app this year as well as other mobile enhancements within any other brand of business and technology spends will hit the capital spend and depreciation for the year.

Progress Outlook

Janet Kloppenburg – JJK Research: First, Dick, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Urban Outfitters and how you saw their progress in the first quarter and what we could look forward to for that brand, some of the new initiatives there for fiscal ’14? And Frank, I wondered if you would give us a little hint on SG&A in the second quarter because the first quarter came in a little light to the original indications you had given us and I was thinking a high-teen bump-up in SG&A for the second quarter. Just wanted to see if that has remained consistent.

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Richard A. Hayne – Chairman, President and CEO: Well Janet, I’m going to let Ted Marlow talk about Urban, since he is right here and he is much closer to it than I. Ted?

Tedford Marlow – CEO, Urban Outfitters Group: In regard to the Urban brand in the quarter, the focus really for – our key focus over the past year, as you know, has been distorting our opportunity through direct-to-consumer. We’ve realized a very strong quarter, both in the North America and European market and direct. While our North American and European retail businesses did treat us positively, the distortion of the business really was on the direct side. We’ve been driving that through customer acquisition and retention along with increasing our style offer to customer. I believe this last week we were operating the Urban North America business with somewhere around 18,000 styles and the assortment (up against) about 10,000 last year. So it’s dramatically increased in regard to the size of offer as well as the database that we are reaching out to today is nicely increased over last year’s database size as well. In regard to the overall content of the mix, we had good performance out of the fashion businesses in North America and in Europe. The weather was not necessarily our best brand in North America in the northeast as it pertains to another offer, but we felt good about how we look. We feel good about how we look going into second quarter and it’s a moment of change in the mix in regard to what we’re seeing in sort of the wet performance, and I think that our teams has done a good job of identifying that and fueling our inventory with appropriate product.

Frank J. Conforti – CFO: Janet, this is Frank. I’m going to answer your SG&A question because I suspect there is probably a few more on the call, who are interested as well. Our SG&A growth rate did come in lower than we had planned for the first quarter and that was primarily due to lower headcount than we had – headcount hiring coming in lower than what we had originally expected. We still are planning for mid-teens SG&A growth rate for the year. So, we do expect to see that SG&A growth rate accelerate into the second quarter and for the remainder of the year. If you remember last year was very similar dynamic too. We started out a little slower than we originally planned based on headcount hiring coming in a little slower than planned, but still finished the year exactly where we were targeting from a growth rate standpoint for SG&A. And I expect the same to – we are planning for the same to occur this year.