Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

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Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript March 28, 2023

Operator: Thank you for standing by. This is the conference operator. Welcome to the lululemon athletica inc. Fourth Quarter 2022 Conference Call. As a reminder, all participants are in listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Howard Tubin, Vice President, Investor Relations for lululemon athletica. Please go ahead.

Howard Tubin: Thank you, and good afternoon. Welcome to lululemon's fourth quarter earnings conference call. Joining me today to talk about our results are Calvin McDonald, CEO; and Meghan Frank, CFO. Before we get started, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that our remarks today will include forward-looking statements reflecting management's current forecast of certain aspects of lululemon's future. These statements are based on current information, which we have assessed but by which its nature is dynamic and subject to rapid and even abrupt changes. Actual results may differ materially from those contained in or implied by these forward-looking statements due to risks and uncertainties associated with our business, including those we have disclosed in our most recent filings with the SEC, including our annual report on Form 10-K and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

Any forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions as of today, and we disclaim any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any of these statements as a result of new information or future events. During this call, we will present both GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP measures is included in our annual report on Form 10-K and in today's earnings press release. In addition, the comparable sales metrics given on today's call are on a constant dollar basis. The press release and accompanying annual report on Form 10-K are available under the Investors section of our website at Before we begin the call, I'd like to remind our investors to visit our investor site where you'll find a summary of our key financial and operating statistics for the fourth quarter as well as our quarterly infographic.

Today's call is scheduled for one hour, so please limit yourself to one question at a time to give others the opportunity to have their questions addressed. And now I'd like to turn the call over to Calvin.

Calvin McDonald: Thank you, Howard. I am pleased to be here today to discuss our strong finish to another strong year for lululemon. As you've seen from our press release, our adjusted quarter four results came in ahead of our January guidance update and our adjusted full year results represent a very solid start to our Power of Three x2 growth plan. I'm also excited that we continue to see strength and momentum across the business so far in quarter one. None of this would have been possible without our lululemon collective, our employees, our vendor partners, our ambassadors and our guests, all of whom are integral to our continued success. I want to express my gratitude on behalf of all of the senior leaders to our incredible teams around the world.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to lululemon. We are ready for all the future holds for our brand in 2023 and beyond. On today's call, I plan to cover several topics: our quarter four and full year results; our product pipeline for 2023; an update our membership program; our recent market share gains; and finally, insights across our international business. So let's get started. Our momentum continued in quarter four, with revenue increasing 30% versus last year and 26% on a three-year CAGR basis. We managed the business very well through an environment that was highly promotional and our markdowns were only up a modest 40 basis points versus 2019. I am pleased that as we progressed out of the holidays and began to transition to new spring merchandise, regular price sales returned to our normal levels.

This speaks to the power of our brand, the appeal of our merchandise assortment and the strength of our operating model. And as you can see from our guidance, business remains good in quarter one and we are looking forward to another strong year in 2023. Our business continues to be well balanced across product category, channel and region. Revenue increased in quarter four on a three-year CAGR basis as follows. Women's was up 23%. Our men's business was up 26%. And accessories was up 44%. We saw a 10% increase in company-operated stores and our e-commerce grew 46%. And by region, North America grew 24% and international increased 39%. When looking at adjusted earnings per share, we continue to deliver strong gains as well, with quarter four EPS increasing 31% versus last year and 25% on a three-year CAGR basis.

I would also like to spend a moment on our full year 2022 results. As you know, we launched our new five-year Power of Three x2 growth plan last spring. At the highest level, this plan assumes 15% CAGR revenue growth and modest operating margin expansion annually. In 2022, our revenue increased 30% compared to 2021 and 27% on a three-year CAGR basis. Adjusted operating margin increased 10 basis points, while adjusted EPS increased 29% and 27% on a one and three-year CAGR basis, respectively. It is a testament to the strength of our brand that for the full year 2022, we were able to significantly exceed our annual revenue goal and deliver adjusted operating margin in line with our target. And we achieved these results despite the challenging macro backdrop, supply chain issues and the pressure of COVID-19 in China.

Now let's shift to product innovation. 2022 was a strong year for product newness and innovation. We continue to expand our core categories with the launch of SenseKnit fabric technology and cold weather run styles. We grew our play categories with our golf, tennis and height capsules, and we entered a new category with the launch of footwear. Looking forward into 2023, I continue to be incredibly excited by the pipeline of innovation developed by our product teams. Several of our ideas this year include franchise growth, category expansions and building upon the success of some recently launched collections. First, in the coming weeks, we will launch our campaign, featuring our popular and versatile Align franchise. As you know, Align began with a single style, a legging, which we grew to be our #1 performing bottom.

We then expanded the collection to include shorts, pants and bras. More recently, we added away from body styles, including wide leg and mini flare. We will support this product story with an integrated global marketing campaign. We will also be expanding our Men's franchise licensed to train into women's later this year, which will complement our accessible Wunder Train franchise. In men's, we continue to innovate within our core activities with new versions of the Metal Vent T and the Pace Breaker Short. Updates to fit function and aesthetic have modern guest favorites. And in footwear, we recently introduced an updated version of Blissfeel, which incorporates learnings from the initial launch, and it's already receiving the same kind of positive media reviews that we have seen throughout our footwear rollout.

In May, we will launch Blissfeel Trail, our first road to trail shoe, and this summer, we'll introduce an updated version of Chargefeel. Related to footwear, we are pleased with our performance and guest response. Looking forward, we're excited to continue expanding our offerings for her and also launch our men's lineup in 2024. These are just a few examples of how we solve for the unmet needs of our guests. The versatility of our merchandise assortment is one of the key competitive advantages for lululemon. One thing to add is that we do not drive our client growth through discounts or promotions, and we have no intentions to do so. We run a full-price business with markdown strategically used to clear seasonal and other select product, and this will remain our approach in the future.

Now I would like to update you on membership. We launched our new 2-tier membership program in North America this past October, and throughout the holiday season, we gained many learnings and insights regarding how our guests engage with our brand. Let me start with our Essentials program, which is offered to guess at no cost. While we do not intend to release this metric regularly, I wanted to share that the number of sign-ups is significantly exceeding our expectations. In the first five months, we have already enrolled more than 9 million members. This demonstrates the significant potential behind this program. While the Essentials tier offers several compelling benefits and access to content, no discounts are involved. The rapid rate of sign-up speaks to the incredible loyalty of our guests, and the early results show our membership program increases the frequency of guests engaging with us.

For example, more than 30% of members have already participated in at least one of the benefits of the program, and we expect this engagement to drive retention and incremental purchasing behavior going forward. Related to the lululemon Studio tier of our membership program, we have also gained valuable insights that are informing our next steps. As we mentioned in our press release, we are taking an impairment charge related to assets and goodwill associated with MIRROR. Meghan will share more details with you in a moment. As you know, we tested a paid city-based membership program in North America prior to our acquisition of MIRROR. Through that experience, we saw how guests were eager to engage with us through some of the sweat options we provided to participants.

Not only did members enjoy these benefits, but we also saw increased member engagement, new guest acquisition and an increase in member spend. These learnings were the basis for our acquisition in 2020. The recent launch of lululemon Studio has provided a new way to scale a paid membership program. Our best-in-class content helps build on our community of engaged guests, deepens our connection with them and drive incremental purchases of lululemon product. In fact, after studying the behavior of members, our initial analysis suggests that their spend on lululemon product increases approximately 9%, and this 9% is incremental. However, as you know, since our acquisition, the at-home fitness space has been challenging. While members love our content, hardware sales did not match our expectations.

And even though our CAC has continued to improve, it has not improved enough to maintain the current level of investment. As we continue to invest prudently in this business, we are evolving the model from being focused on hardware only to offering content through a digital and app-based solution as well. The new more efficient app-based model will launch this summer at a lower monthly subscription rate, and when combined with our 9 million in growing Essentials members will allow us to expand our total addressable market for potential members. We view lululemon Studio in the same way we view any innovation. We test, we learn and we evolve as necessary. Although the acquisition has not fully materialized as originally intended, we're in a much better position in our understanding of the community and our new membership program as a result.

Shifting gears, I want to speak to the strength of the lululemon brand and the gains we are seeing in market share. Let me share a few metrics with you. When looking at transactions, our growth continues to be well balanced across new and existing guests. In quarter four, we delivered a nearly 30% increase in transactions by new guests and more than 35% increase in transactions by existing guests. For the full year, these results contributed to a mid- to high 20% increase for both metrics. Next, I will touch on our recent and continued gain in market share. In fiscal quarter four, 2022, the adult active apparel industry decreased its U.S. revenue by 5% compared to the same period last year. And over this time period, lululemon gained 2.3 points of market share in the U.S., the most of any brand in this market according to NPD Group's Consumer Tracking service.

Yoga, equipment, health
Yoga, equipment, health

Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

This is the highest quarterly market share gain we've achieved since we began tracking these numbers in 2020, and it caps a year in which we grew our market share every quarter. This speaks to our growth in the U.S., a key market within North America. And as we detailed at Analyst Day, we have significant opportunity to grow our brand awareness in North America and markets around the world. Just since last April, we have seen increases in awareness in some of our key growth regions. We added 5 points to our unaided awareness in Australia from 19% to 24%; 2 points in China from 7% to 9%; and 2 points in the UK, taking us to 16% in the market. As you can see from these numbers, significantly more consumers in these regions are currently unaware of our brand compared to those who are, which highlights this meaningful opportunity.

As I mentioned earlier, our business remained strong in both our North America and international markets. In quarter four and full year 2022, revenue in North America increased 29%, while our international business generated 35% growth in quarter four and for the full year as well. I would like to turn to our results in China where our potential continues to be significant. We have been investing in foundational infrastructure, people in stores that have fueled considerable growth in the market. As the impacts of COVID-19 normalize, we are seeing our momentum accelerate, and we are excited for the opportunities in the region in 2023 and beyond. In quarter four, revenue in China increased more than 30% versus last year and over 50% on a three-year CAGR basis.

While COVID-19 impacted revenue in December, we had a strong finish to the quarter and have seen momentum accelerate in quarter one. We have a solid foundation in the region across our brick-and-mortar and digital channels and is supported by exceptional talent on which we continue to build. We recently opened our largest store in Asia Pacific, the Kerry Center in Shanghai. It's an incredible expression of our brand, reflecting our commitment to the market, and it now brings our store count in China to nearly a 100 locations. It's clear our growth strategies are on track, and we remain early in our journey across our international markets. With that, I'll now turn it over to Meghan.

Meghan Frank: Thanks, Calvin. I'm excited to be here today to discuss our Q4 results. We finished 2022 on a strong note with our adjusted results exceeding the updated guidance we provided in mid-January. This was enabled by an acceleration in our sales trend, along with the normalization of purchasing behavior relative to full price and markdown product. Looking at Q1, our business continues to be robust. Our inventory growth will continue to moderate, and we expect to realize significant gross margin expansion driven by lower airfreight. Let me now share the details of our Q4 performance. I will also discuss specifics on our balance sheet, including our inventory and cash position. Please note that when comparing the financial metrics for Q4 2022 with Q4 2021, adjusted earnings per share for Q4 2022 exclude $3.46 of expense related to impairment charges associated with the MIRROR business.

Adjusted earnings per share for Q4 2021 exclude $0.01 of expense related to the acquisition of MIRROR. I will provide more detail on the Q4 2022 impairment charge shortly. And you can refer to our earnings release and Form 10-K for more information and reconciliations to our GAAP metrics. For Q4, total net revenue rose 30% to $2.8 billion. Comparable sales increased 30% with a 17% increase in stores and a 39% increase in digital. On a three-year CAGR basis, total revenue increased 26%. In our store channel, sales increased 26% on a one-year basis and 10% on a three-year CAGR basis. Productivity remains above 2019 levels. We ended the quarter with a total of 655 stores across the globe. Square footage increased 21% versus last year, driven by the addition of 81 net new lululemon stores since Q4 of 2021.

During the quarter, we opened 32 net new stores and completed 13 optimizations. In our digital channel, revenues increased 46% on a three-year CAGR basis and contributed $1.4 billion of top line, or 52% of total revenue. Within North America, revenues increased 29% versus last year and 24% on a three-year CAGR basis. Within international, we saw a 35% increase versus last year and 39% on a three-year CAGR basis. And by category, men's revenue increased 22% versus last year and 26% on a three-year CAGR basis. Women's increased 30% versus last year and 23% on a three-year CAGR basis. And accessories grew 69% and 44% on the same basis. It's also great to see ongoing strength in traffic across both channels. In stores traffic increased over 30%; and in our digital business, traffic to our e-commerce sites and apps globally increased over 45%.

On a three-year CAGR basis, traffic is up 7% in stores and 40% in e-commerce. This speaks to the strength of our omni operating model as we engage with our guests in ways most convenient to them. Adjusted gross profit for the fourth quarter was $1.59 billion or 57.4% of net revenue compared to 58.1% of net revenue in Q4 2021. Adjusted gross margin decreased 70 basis points relative to last year. This was driven primarily by the following factors: 50 basis points of deleverage from foreign exchange within gross margin, which was offset by a 50 basis point FX benefit within SG&A and 50 basis points of deleverage on fixed costs. This was driven primarily by investments in our product teams in DC, offset somewhat by leverage on occupancy and depreciation.

These were partially offset by a 30 basis point increase in product margin. This increase was driven primarily by lower air freight expense, partially offset by higher markdowns in merchandise mix. When looking at markdowns relative to 2019, for Q4, they were up 40 basis points, contributing to markdowns being relatively flat for the full year versus 2019. Adjusted gross margin was favorable to our updated guidance, which was a decline of 90 basis points to 110 basis points due predominantly to favorability and markdowns in air freight in addition to leverage from higher-than-planned sales. Moving to SG&A. Our approach continues to be guarded in prudently managing our expenses while also continuing to strategically invest in our long-term growth opportunities.

SG&A expenses were approximately $803 million or 29% of net revenue compared to 30.2% of net revenue for the same period last year. The leverage in the quarter versus Q4 2021 resulted from leverage in our operating channels and a benefit from FX, I mentioned earlier. This was offset somewhat by increased corporate SG&A and a modest increase in depreciation and amortization. Adjusted operating income for the quarter was approximately $785 million or 28.3% of net revenue compared to 27.8% of net revenue in Q4 2021. Adjusted tax expense for the quarter was $226.5 million or 28.7% of pre-tax earnings compared to an adjusted effective tax rate of 26.4% a year ago. The increase relative to last year is due primarily to accruing for Canadian withholding taxes on a portion of fiscal 2022 Canadian earnings and some benefit we had last year upon the filing of income tax returns.

Adjusted net income for the quarter was $562.5 million or $4.40 per diluted share compared to adjusted earnings per diluted share of $3.37 for the fourth quarter of 2021. Capital expenditures were approximately $207 million for the quarter compared to approximately $128 million in Q4 of last year. Q4 spend relates primarily to investments that support business growth, including our multiyear distribution center project, store capital for new locations, relocations and renovations and technology investments. Before turning to our balance sheet highlights, let me spend a moment on the charges we took related to the MIRROR business. As you know, the overall at-home fitness space remains challenged. MIRROR hardware sales during the holiday season came in below our expectations, therefore, we ran an impairment test at the end of Q4.

Based upon this test, we took charges related to the impairment of goodwill and certain long-lived assets and a provision for MIRROR hardware. These charges totaled approximately $443 million, net of tax, or $3.46 per share. The valuations used in the impairment calculation are based on an evaluation of MIRROR on a standalone basis. We are pivoting away from the hardware-centric business that we acquired to also focus on a more efficient app-based model. While we see Studio as a key component of our membership strategy, which will help drive incremental revenue, the standalone valuation of MIRROR doesn't fully reflect the incremental revenue. Looking forward, we remain excited about our membership program. As Calvin shared, we already have over 9 million members in our Essentials program, and we continue to see opportunity to build our community, increase engagement and drive incremental spend.

Turning now to our balance sheet highlights. We ended the quarter with $1.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and nearly $400 million of available capacity under our revolving credit facility. Inventory at the end of Q4 was $1.4 billion, modestly under our expectations for 60% growth. This reflects one year dollar growth of 50% or 57% excluding the provision for MIRROR hardware. I would also like to note that core seasonless product continues to make up approximately 45% of our inventory. We remain pleased with our inventory levels. In 2023, our inventory growth will continue to moderate, while we maintain our full price selling model, and we remain well positioned to fulfill guest demand. At the end of Q1, on a one-year dollar basis, we expect inventory to increase approximately 30% to 35% relative to last year.

Looking further out, we expect inventory growth to be relatively in line with sales growth in the second half of 2023. During the quarter, we repurchased approximately 213,000 shares at an average price of $323. At the end of Q4, we had approximately $744 million remaining on our $1 billion repurchase program. Let me shift now to our guidance outlook. While we are mindful of the ongoing macro uncertainties and we continue to plan the business prudently, we're excited with our sales trends in Q1 and also the benefits we expect to realize in 2023 from the lower airfreight and our new lululemon Studio model. We have the opportunity to invest into our Power of Three x2 growth pillars while also delivering operating margin in 2023, slightly ahead of our goal for modest expansion annually.

In 2023, we expect revenue to be in the range of $9.3 billion to $9.41 billion. This range represents growth of 15% to 16% relative to 2022 and is in line to slightly better than our Power of Three x2 growth plan. We expect to open 45 to 50 net new company-operated stores in 2023 and complete approximately 25 co-located remodels. This will contribute to overall square footage growth in the low double digits. Our new store openings in 2023 will include 30 to 35 stores in our international markets, with the majority of these planned for China. For the full year, we forecast gross margin to increase between 140 basis points to 160 basis points versus 2022. The expansion relative to last year is driven predominantly by lower air freight expense.

For the full year, we expect airfreight to be down approximately 150 basis points versus 2022. When looking at markdowns for the full year, we expect them to be in line with last year and 2019. Let me also share some additional detail on our multiyear distribution center project. We began this project in 2022 with the opening of our new Tilbury DC near Vancouver. For the year overall, this project had a negative 30 basis point impact on gross margin. In 2023, we will continue investing in our distribution network to support future growth. Projects include building a new DC in the Greater Los Angeles area and also expanding two of our existing DCs in Columbus and Toronto. Included in our gross margin guidance for the year is 20 basis points of deleverage associated with these initiatives.

Turning now to SG&A for the full year. We forecast deleverage of 120 basis points to 140 basis points versus 2022, driven predominantly by increased investments to support market expansion, improve our guest experience by enhancing our omni capabilities and continuing to make foundational investments to support future growth. In addition, we expect higher depreciation due to current and prior year investments. When looking at operating margin for the full year 2023, we expect it to increase by 20 basis points to 40 basis points versus last year. This would be slightly ahead of our Power of Three x2 long-term target of a modest expansion annually. For the full year 2023, we expect our effective tax rate to be approximately 30%, an increase over the 2022 adjusted effective tax rate of 28.1%.

This is in line with our longer-term tax rate expectations we provided as part of our Power of Three x2 plan and reflects the increase we expect as a result of accruing for Canadian withholding taxes. For Q1, we expect our effective tax rate to be approximately 30%. For the fiscal year 2023, we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of $11.50 to $11.72 versus adjusted EPS of $10.07 in 2022. Our EPS guidance excludes the impact of any future share repurchases. We expect capital expenditures to be approximately $660 million to $680 million for 2023. The increase versus 2022 reflects investments to support business growth including a continuation of our multiyear distribution center expansion, store capital for new locations, relocations and renovations and technology investments.

Our range of $660 million to $680 million is approximately 7% of revenue, in line with our current Power of Three x2 target of 7% to 9%. Shifting now to Q1. We expect revenue in the range of $1.89 billion to $1.93 billion, representing one year growth of 17% to 20%. We expect to open 5 to 10 net new company-operated stores in Q1. We expect gross margin in Q1 to increase 290 basis points to 320 basis points relative to Q1 of 2022. This will be driven by lower airfreight expense, offset somewhat by strategic investments in supply chain and distribution centers as well as foreign exchange. In Q1, we expect our SG&A rate to deleverage by 60 basis points to 80 basis points relative to Q1 2022, related to the investments I just described. When looking at operating margin for Q1, we expect expansion of approximately 200 basis points.

We expect earnings per share in the first quarter to be in the range of $1.93 to $2 versus adjusted EPS of $1.48 a year ago. With that, I will wrap up my remarks and turn it back over to Calvin.

Calvin McDonald: Thank you, Meghan. In 2022, we passed $8 billion in revenue for the first time driven by balanced growth across categories, channels and markets. Our product pipeline driven by innovation is very strong. More than 9 million guests signed up for our Essentials membership program in the first five months, which further strengthens the opportunity to keep building our community, strengthen our guest relationship and drive long-term value. Our market share gains show our brand is able to expand and attract new guests and yet our unaided awareness remains low, which demonstrates the runway in front of us. And we're seeing strong momentum in every market where we operate, and we continue to successfully expand into new geographies. These are just some of the reasons I'm excited about all that's in front of us, both in 2023 and over the coming years. I look forward to taking your questions now. Operator?

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