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Coach Third-Quarter Profit Rises on New Products

Handbag and accessories maker Coach said Tuesday that quarterly profit rose 38%, helped by new handbag styles and the launch of a fragrance.

Coach, which also sells handbags, accessories, travel products and shoes, posted net income of $150 million, or 40 cents per share, for its fiscal third quarter, ended March 31, compared with $108.8 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.

The company earned 39 cents per share, excluding discontinued operations, The average Wall Street estimate was 38 cents, excluding items, as compiled by Reuters Estimates.

New York-based Coach said total net sales rose 30% to $625.3 million, while sales at U.S. stores stores open at least a year, a key retail metric known as same-store sales, increased 20%. Same-store sales climbed 15% at retail stores and nearly 27% at factory stores.

On a continuing operations basis, Coach, which has evolved from a leather goods manufacturer to a hip fashion brand, forecast full-year earnings per share of $1.67 on sales of at least $2.6 billion.

Coach said that forecast compared with a Wall Street estimate of $1.72 per share, which it estimates includes a 10 cent contribution from discontinued operations.

The company said that forecast implied earnings per share of 40 cents for the fiscal fourth quarter on sales of $640 million.

For fiscal 2008 on a continuing basis, Coach forecast earnings per share of at least $2.02 and sales of at least $3.1 billion.

Coach's stock has more than doubled since hitting a yearly low in July, reaching all-time highs along the way. It currently trades at about 30 times earnings estimates for the current fiscal year, a premium to its peers on the Standard & Poor's Consumer Discretionary Sector Index , which has an average price-to-earning multiple of 18.6.

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