True Religion net income rises almost 16 percent

VERNON, Calif. (AP) -- True Religion Apparel Inc. said on Tuesday that its net income rose 15.9 percent as it opened new stores and clothing sales through other stores picked up.

The clothing company had net income of $10.4 million, or 41 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31. That was up from almost $9 million, or 36 cents per share, during the same period last year. Revenue rose 13.9 percent to $106.8 million, from $93.8 million a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting income of 36 cents per share on revenue of $102.5 million.

True Religion operates 109 U.S. stores, and also sells its designer jeans at other stores through its wholesale unit. Wholesale revenue rose 2.8 percent to $21.4 million, the segment's first year-over-year increase since the end of 2008. That segment has suffered as department stores and other retailers cut back spending.

Its own retail sales through its stores and online rose 22.6 percent to $65.5 million. Sales at stores open at least a year as well as online sales rose 13.3 percent. That's a key measure for retailers because it excludes the impact of new stores.

International sales rose 3.6 percent to $19.1 million.

True Religion added a total of 13 stores by the end of March, compared to the same period last year. In addition to its U.S. stores, it operates 18 other stores in the U.K., Canada, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

The company said it would begin paying a quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share. The first dividend is planned for May 29 for shareholders of record on May 15. True Religion's board also authorized a $30 million share repurchase plan.

Its shares had risen 72 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $27.88 before the results were released. They rose another $3.97, or 14.2 percent, to $31.85 in after-hours trading.