Hold on to your mallet.

Polo Ralph Lauren

(RL) - Get Report

this morning posted earnings that beat analysts' expectations for its third quarter, citing strong overall growth in its men's and women's collections. The upscale fashion retailer also gave strong projections for the future.

Polo earned $50.6 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $32.3 million, or 33 cents a share, in the same period last year. The 15 analysts polled by earnings tracker

First Call/Thomson Financial

expected less. They were looking for earnings of 50 cents a share.

Quarterly revenue grew 20% to $613.7 million from $510.3 million last year, growth that Ralph Lauren said came from strong holiday retail sales and double-digit growth in its specialty department stores.

Looking ahead, Ralph Lauren expects fourth-quarter earnings of 42 cents to 44 cents a share, compared with 32 cents a share in the same period a year ago. First Call analysts expect earnings of 42 cents a share for the quarter. And further in the future, the company said it expects 2002 earnings per share to come in at $1.93 to $1.98, with 5% to 7% revenue growth, improved gross margins and decreased operating expenses. Analysts on average expect 2002 earnings of $1.94 a share.

Shares of the company closed at $25.24 on the

New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, near their 52-week high of $27.50.