Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrances Earnings Call Nuggets: Holiday Guidance and Gross Margin

Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrances (NASDAQ:ULTA) recently reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Holiday Guidance

Brian Tunick – JP Morgan: Chuck, I know it’s a late holiday this year and people might be a little behind the eight ball, given what they’ve said about some November comps out there, but just curious of your view of the overall promotional environment, either from what you’re seeing on the department store side or on the drugstore side? Then the second question is, you talked about a 1,200 store target long-term, obviously, accelerating that here, but what’s the thought between how much of that has to come from existing or reconfigured real estate versus when are we going to need to see new store development begin to ramp up?

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Chuck Rubin – President and CEO: Let’s take the second one first. I think that clearly for the 1,200 stores, there is going to be a need for new construction. Obviously, with our announcement today, we feel really good about 2013 and most of the stores are our existing real estate. The pipeline into 2014, believe it or not, we’ve already approved some sites for that year. It’s a little early to look at it at that point, but there are some seeds of new development starting to show up and we do have high hopes that the real estate market does start to show some new development as you move into the out years, but clearly to get to the 1200 we will need some new development but we do think that that will start to materialize. In terms of your first question on the promotional environment, there does seem to be a wide range of activity in retail today and it goes beyond the beauty market. Clearly, our performance this quarter continued to gain market share so the customer continues to vote that they like what we do. We are well positioned in our strategy for the fourth quarter between the breadth of our offering everything from mass to prestige, from cosmetics to skincare to hair care, across price points using our loyalty program we are well-positioned to add value to the customer and we are seeing that she is shopping for value. As Scott mentioned in our prepared comments, our Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday were terrific. They were very big, but she was looking for value. But we have a very sound offering to be able to cater to that using some of the things we talked about in script.