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Actionable news in ULTA: Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc.,

In an ugly quarter for retailers, Ulta's story is a thing of beauty

Ulta Beauty just reported what many are calling another stellar quarter.

The beauty retailer continues to outshine struggling peers by doing a few key things right — drawing millennials to its stores, growing an impressive e-commerce business, playing up brand partnerships and rolling out fun and innovative product lines.

"We think the market continues to drastically underestimate the duration of growth for this better-mouse-trap, category-killer retailer," Evercore ISI analyst Omar Saad wrote in a note to clients.

"Ulta has decisively won the trust and reliance of essentially all the top brands in the beauty industry, and the company still has a significantly undersized store footprint," Saad went on.

Shares of Ulta's stock were climbing by more than 4 percent Friday morning, on the heels of the retailer's celebrated first-quarter earnings beat.

While most headlines tell the tale of retailers struggling to grow foot traffic at brick-and-mortar locations today, Ulta is proving it knows how to buck the trends.

The retailer's same-store sales — a metric closely watched by Wall Street — rose 14.3 percent for the latest period, a healthy double-digit jump at a time when many businesses are barely eking out 1 percent to 2 percent growth.

Ulta attributed the gains to 8.7 percent transaction growth at its established stores and a 5.6 percent uptick in the average shopper's ticket.

"We're particularly proud of these results in light of the challenging environment many retailers are experiencing," CEO Mary Dillon said on the earnings conference...


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