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Looking for signs that the global consumer is back? You’ll find them in the third quarter fiscal 2010 earnings that Coach (COH) reported before the stock market opened on April 20.

The company announced earnings of 50 cents a share, 4 cents a share above Wall Street expectations, on revenue of $830.7 million. Wall Street had been projecting revenue of $811.5 million. Revenue grew by 12.3% from the third quarter of fiscal 2009. Gross margin climbed to 74.1% from 70.96% in the third quarter of fiscal 2009. Wall Street analysts had estimated margins at 72.53% for the quarter. The gross margin for the third quarter just about matches the 74.2% gross margin in the second quarter. To me it’s clear that Coach’s revamped product line and aggressive efforts to cut costs in its manufacturing system have paid off—and are sustainable.

The better than projected results came from both existing and new stores.

In North America, for example, comparable same store sales grew by 5.1%. That was up from 3.2% in the immediately prior second quarter of fiscal 2010.

Growth in China, the company’s big new growth market, is running faster than Coach had expected. The company is now projecting that sales in China, now increasing at a double-digit rate, will reach $250 million during fiscal 2012. The company opens its first mainland China flagship store in Shanghai this week.

In a sign of the company’s belief that it can sustain this growth and these margins, the board of directors voted to double the dividend to an annual rate of 60 cents a share beginning with the July payout. The board also authorized the repurchase of up to $1 billion in stock by the end of June 2012.

So I continue to say, Let it run. Momentum is with U.S. and global consumer stocks, especially those of companies that sell affordable luxury. (For why the U.S. stock market is likely to be the best performing stock market in the world in the next three months for so, see my post As of April 20, 2010 I’m raising my target price to $48 a share by October 2010 from the previous target of $44.

Full disclosure: I own shares of Coach in my personal portfolio.