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Coach Doubles Its Earnings

The company's shares jump 8.6% in afternoon trading.

The market for high-end leather handbags looks lively, as

Coach

(COH)

said Tuesday that it more than doubled its third-quarter earnings.

The company also provided fourth-quarter and full-year 2003 and 2004 earnings outlooks that are ahead of analysts' expectations.

In the quarter ended March 29, New York-based Coach earned $31.9 million, or 34 cents a share, compared with $14.7 million, or 16 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts were expecting 29 cents a share.

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"Our robust business this quarter was driven by well-received spring offerings, continuing the very strong trend we have seen over the last several periods," said Lew Frankfort, chief executive. "Our results in Japan were also extremely strong, as comparable locations again posted double-digit sales gains."

Shares of Coach were up 8.6% at $41.79 in afternoon trading Tuesday.

The company said gross profit rose 44% to $159.8 million from $111.1 million a year ago. Gross margin expanded from 68.8% to 72.5%.

Revenue was $220.4 million, compared with last year's $161.6 million.

The company said it now estimates full-year 2003 sales of more than $935 million and earnings per share of at least $1.54; analysts expect $1.47 a share. The company earned 97 cents a share in 2002. Coach's 2003 estimates reflect sales of $215 million and EPS of at least 28 cents for the fourth quarter. It earned 18 cents a share in the same period in fiscal 2002; analysts' consensus estimate is for 25 cents a share.

Looking to full-year 2004, the company expects a sales growth of at least 15% to at least $1.075 billion, with an operating income increase of at least 20% and EPS of at least $1.80. Analysts expect $1.69 a share, on average.