NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of beauty and cosmetic retailer Ulta Salon (ULTA) reported first-quarter results after the closing bell on Thursday, exceeding expectations on the top and bottom lines. 

Earnings per share came in at $1.04, beating the 93 cents analysts expected, according to Thomson Reuters, and ahead of the 77 cents earned during the same quarter last year. The retailer reported sales of $868 million, beating the consensus estimate of $846 million and up from the $713 million earned during the year-ago quarter.

Comparable sales, a key industry metric, rose 11.4%, ahead of the 8.7% increase during the same quarter last year.

"The Ulta Beauty team delivered an excellent start to 2015, with better-than-expected sales and earnings growth in the first quarter," said CEO Mary Dillon. "We achieved our best comparable sales growth since 2011, driven by strong traffic growth in both retail and e-commerce, market share gains across all categories, and continued successful execution of our marketing strategies. We also drove significant operating margin expansion, with a healthy balance of product margin improvement and marketing and payroll expense leverage."

The company repurchased just over 192,000 shares during the quarter, totaling roughly $28 million.

As for outlook, Ulta Salon expects second-quarter sales to range from $854 million to $868 million, while comparable-store sales will rise between 7% and 9%.

Analysts at William Blair and Robert W. Baird maintain an outperform rating on the stock. KeyBanc Capital Markets and J.P. Morgan hold an overweight rating.

Ulta Salon's price of $154.84 is roughly 39 times greater than its pre-share earnings last year. Shares have returned over 21% since the start of the year. 


TheStreet Ratings team rates ULTA SALON COSMETCIS & FRAGRANCES as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate ULTA SALON COSMETCS & FRAG (ULTA) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and solid stock price performance. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: ULTA Ratings Report

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