True Religion Apparel (TRLG)

In Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 premium jeans brand, True Religion Apparel, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRLG), announced a 10 percent jump in its first quarter profit and a 19 percent jump in sales, over the same period last year.

The company also increased its cash balance to $76.5 million and carried no debt ahead, and expanded its gross margin by 380 basis points to 60.9 percent, from 57.1 percent last year. Operating income for the quarter increased 15 percent to $13.1 million, from $11.4 million a year ago, and net profit per share increased to $0.32, from $0.29 a year ago. Earnings were buoyed by a 26 percent increase in international sales and a 96 percent increase in branded retail stores an through e-commerce, offset by an 11 percent decline in sales for the company’s U.S. wholesale segment.

True Religion also expanded its consumer direct segment, growing its total store count to 49 as of March 31st, and 51 stores as of today. According to True Religion Apparel chairman CEO, Jeff Lubel, the “expansion of our consumer direct segment is a key component of our growth strategy.”

CFO, Pete Collins reiterated the company’s guidance of net sales between $290 million and $297 million in 2009.

Shares of TRLG were up as much as 24 percent today, largely because of results from a private survey showing the smallest decline in private-sector employment in six months.