Net sales increased 23.0% to $582.5 million in the fourth quarter; while comparable store sales (sales for stores open at least 14 months) increased 11.5%, according to the company. Operating income increased 49.5% to $73.2 million, while net income increased 53.8% to $46.3 million.
For the fiscal year, net sales increased 22.1% to $1.8 billion. Comparable store sales (sales for stores open at least 14 months) increased 10.9%, while operating income increased 65.0% to $196.2 million. Net income increased 69.3% to $120.3 million.
For fiscal 2012, the company plans to achieve comparable store sales growth at or slightly above the high end of its long-term goal of 3% to 5%.
Chuck Rubin, president and chief executive officer of Ulta stated: “Our positive momentum continued in the fourth quarter and concluded another outstanding year of growth at Ulta Beauty. We grew market share across all major categories in the fourth quarter and fiscal year, demonstrating the ongoing strength of our store experience, our superior customer service and the excitement we bring our guests in new products, brands, services, in-store events and only at Ulta exclusives.
"Our store expansion continued favorably and included the opening of 61 new stores in the fiscal year for square footage expansion of 16%. Combined, these achievements fueled more than a 20% increase in net sales and double-digit comparable store sales growth for the year. We continue to leverage our infrastructure as we grow and deliver significant free cash flow. To this point, we expanded operating margin by 280 basis points to reach 11% of net sales in 2011, moving us closer to our mid-teen operating margin goal. We are very proud of our accomplishments this year and equally confident about our ability to continue our success in fiscal 2012 and long term.”
“As we look forward into 2012 and beyond, we are focused on building upon our successful strategies and determining priorities for the strong cash position we have developed,” Rubin continued. “Given the attractive returns from our new store program, we are further accelerating our square footage growth in 2012 to approximately 22%, or 100 new locations. In recognition of our expectations of generating significant free cash flow in 2012, while investing in approximately 100 new stores and the people and infrastructure to support our growth, our Board of Directors has decided to return a portion of capital to our shareholders by way of a $1.00 per share special cash dividend. We will continue to evaluate the appropriate use of cash generated in our business to maximize returns for shareholders.”
In other news, the company is implementing a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) succession plan after Gregg R. Bodnar, the company’s chief financial officer and assistant secretary, advised that due to a family health issue he will be required to relocate to Michigan and as such intends to step down from his current position at such time as a suitable successor CFO can be identified. CEO Rubin and the Company’s Board, with the assistance of an executive search firm, will begin the process of contacting and evaluating successor candidates. In order to facilitate an orderly transition, Bodnar will remain in his present position pending the appointment of his successor and will assist in the transition of his successor. Bodnar joined Ulta as chief financial officer in September 2006.