Investor Alert

April 12, 2012, 3:01 a.m. EDT

Fast Retailing first-half profit up, raises view

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By Hiroyuki Kachi

-- Fast Retailing revises up full-year earnings outlook

-- Cites strong Uniqlo operations at home, overseas

-- Raises dividend outlook for fiscal year to Y260/share

(Adds details of domestic, overseas Uniqlo performance in 4th-6th paragraphs)

TOKYO (MarketWatch) -- The operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing store chain reported Thursday that its revenue and profits for the interim period ended February jumped from the previous year on the back of solid performance at home and overseas, prompting an upward revision to its full-year earnings outlook.

Fast Retailing Co. , typically one of the few bright spots in the stagnant Japanese retail sector, generated a net profit of Y57.80 billion for the first half, up 38.7% from Y41.67 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Sales soared 14.9% to Y525.50 billion from Y457.33 billion, while operating profit gained 11.8% to Y91.75 billion.

To better compete with bigger rivals such as Gap Inc. (GPS), the company has opened new stores in Taipei, New York and elsewhere, leading to a 68.8% surge in overseas Uniqlo sales on year to Y84.8 billion.

The company's performance at home--still a big chunk of its business--has gained traction in recent months. Same-store sales at its domestic Uniqlo casual clothing stores rose 5.1% in March.

It was the fourth straight monthly gain, and lifted the pace of growth in same-store monthly sales since the beginning of the fiscal year to an average of 2.6%, higher than the company's outlook of 1% for the full year made three months ago. The company defines same-store sales as those at stores open continuously through its fiscal year ending August.

For the full fiscal year, the company raised its net-profit outlook to Y81.50 billion from Y70 billion. It revised upward its full-year outlook for sales and operating profit to Y941.5 billion and Y138.0 billion, respectively. In its previous outlook, it saw sales of Y937 billion and operating profit of Y130.5 billion.

It also revised up its full-year dividend payout forecast to Y260 per share from Y230.

The company's earnings are based on Japanese accounting standards.

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