Ulta Beauty Inc (NASDAQ:ULTA) Q3 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Dec 05, 2019 • 05:00 pm ET
Greetings and welcome to Ulta Beauty's Third Quarter 2019 Earnings Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Ms. Kiley Rawlins, Vice President, Investor Relations. Thank you. You may proceed.
Thank you, Deven. Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today for Ulta Beauty's third quarter earnings conference call. Hosting today's call are Mary Dillon, Chief Executive Officer and Scott Settersten, Chief Financial Officer. Dave Kimbell, President and Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer, is also with us today.
This afternoon, we released our financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2019. A copy of the press release is available in the Investor Relations section of our website at www.ulta.com. Before we begin, I'd like to remind you of the Company's safe Harbor language. The statements contained in today's conference call, which are not historical facts may be deemed to constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those projected in such statements due to a number of risks and uncertainties, all of which are described in the Company's filings with the SEC. We caution you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of today, December 5, 2019. We have no obligation to update or revise our forward-looking statements except as required by law and you should not expect us to do so.
We'll begin this afternoon with prepared remarks from Mary and Scott. Following our prepared comments, we will open the call for questions. To allow us to accommodate as many questions as possible during the hour scheduled for this call, we ask that you ask one question only during the Q&A session.
Now, I will turn the call over to Mary. Mary?
Thank you, Kiley and good afternoon, everyone. The Ulta Beauty team delivered another quarter of solid topline performance, gross margin expansion and EPS growth despite the current challenges facing the US beauty category. Our differentiated model is winning in the marketplace. We continue to gain market share across all major beauty categories and we are extending our leadership position by creating stronger connections with our guests and engaging them in better and more exciting ways.
Our financial performance for the quarter was generally in line with our internal expectations. To recap, total sales grew 7.9%, comp store sales increased 3.2% on top of 7.8% growth in the third quarter of last year. Gross margin expanded by about 40 basis points and diluted earnings per share increased 3.2%.
As we discussed on the last earnings call, we believe that makeup category in the US is experiencing a down cycle. Like other consumer categories, makeup has experienced a number of up and down cycles. The most recent growth cycle began in 2014, driven by new application