I'm characterizing this as odd because I guess I was expecting to see a big beat on the bottom line after observing the strong rally in the stock. At the time of this writing, shares of the retailer were trading higher by over 6%, with tons of volume backing the bid.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), whose mall colleagues include American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Gap (GPS), closed over 4% higher on Tuesday on active volume. The market liked the fourth quarter numbers. I did not.
Let's see. Total sales were down 5%. Same-store sales skidded 13%. Total company domestic sales contracted 12%. And net income came in at 91 cents per share, adjusted. This compared unfavorably to the $1.06 per share made in the year-ago period.
Yesterday I dropped two stocks, but the list is still too long. In the coming weeks there will be more cuts and if I find anything of more value perhaps there will be something new.
We will also compare recent stock prices to three-year highs to give us a relative idea where the stock floated in rosier times.
Aeropostale (ARO), a mall business whose related stocks include Gap (GPS) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), closed up over 4% at the end of Monday's trading session. The catalyst? According to the corporate press release, management has decided to allocate an additional $250 million to its share buyback program.
This is very interesting news because the big question on every investor's mind has to do with the current holiday season. How well will retailers fare during Christmas? Or, more accurately, will Christmas be as bad as everyone thinks it will be?
Back in August, I discussed my amazement at Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). The stock just didn't seem to be acting in a manner which reflected the fundamentals of the business it represents. Well, my bout of amazement continues, because shares of the retailer are up 9% as of this writing on the latest earnings report. One that didn't impress me.
For the third quarter, Abercrombie made, on a reported basis, 44 cents per diluted share compared to 72 cents per diluted share in the year-ago period. After adjustments, earnings came in at 30 cents per share. Okay, that profit drop is bad enough, but wait till I get to the really bad stuff. Which would be revenues. Total sales declined 15%, but same-store sales were even worse: they plunged off the proverbial cliff, falling 22%.
This year I bought all of my picks so that I would be riding in the same ship as anyone that might have considered my suggestions.
I will be breaking up my potential picks into three categories; contender, on the fence, and out of the running, until I finalize the list in the last week of the year.
During this period Washington has taken charge of the auto industry and helped prop it up with the "cash-for-clunkers" program. They continue to subsidize the real estate market with first-time home buyers incentives, and very low interest rates. The banks are being refueled by the Federal Reserve with interest rates as low as zero, while all the time currency stability has been sacrificed. This has driven gold prices to new highs.
This is the third review of my 2009 stock picks through September 30 (see: Chasing Value: 9 picks for 2009 -- APC, GE, ISRG, WFC and more). This years picks have annihilated index comparisons, so much so that I must attribute some of my good fortune to luck. However, I do believe the original reasoning was sound and the outlier nature of the gains certainly a result of an oversold market living in fear.
AEO opened this morning at $14.50. So far today the stock has hit a low of $14.40 and a high of $14.95. As of 11:30, AEO is trading at $14.70 up 74 cents (5.3%). The chart for AEO looks neutral and S&P gives AEO a neutral 3 STARS (out of 5) hold ranking.
Last summer we lamented the price of gas. This year, however, there's at least one upside. Retail sales for June were up 0.6% - substantially better than the 0.4% anticipated – with the gas prices leading the charge. A slight tip in the brutalized auto manufacturer sector helped, as well. This was the largest retail sales increase in five months.
Gas stations benefited from the cost of fuel, adding a bit of pep to a beleaguered retail industry: sales were up 5% year over year, after doing the same in May. And, car dealers had their best month since January: the sales of cars and parts climbed 2.3%. Nonetheless, this corner of the retail world is still off 14.5% from last year. It may have helped last month, but we're still pretty far from a cure.
AEO opened this morning at $13.89. So far today the stock has hit a low of $13.51 and a high of $15.24. As of 12:35, AEO is trading at $14.71 up 23 cents (1.6%). The chart for AEO looks neutral and S&P gives AEO a neutral 3 STARS (out of 5) hold ranking.
Anyway, Abercrombie, which shares space at the mall with names like J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Gap (NYSE: GPS), and Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO), saw its top line decline by 24%. Same-store sales for the company's entire operations dropped 30%. Same-store sales at the Abercrombie & Fitch brand itself plunged 26%. Earnings per share took a dive of more than 50% to $0.31. It should be noted, however, that there is a pending non-cash charge that will be added to these results at a later time.
The Christmas season was a difficult one for the chain. Sales decreased 9%, and same-store sales declined a whopping 16%. Ouch, sorry to hear that, American Eagle. Earnings came in at 19 cents per share, meeting analysts expectations.
It's the same old story: to move merchandise, things had to be marked down. And that affected profits. Big time.
J. Crew Group (NYSE: JCG) issued a Q4 report that the market seemed to like. The retailer posted a loss of 22 cents per share on Tuesday after the bell. As I said in my earnings preview, Wall Street was bracing for a loss of 27 cents per share. That five-penny beat helped to send J. Crew's shares up by well over 10% in the after-hours session.
I think the buying was a bit overdone. Sure, I'll give credit where credit is due. Management did beat the analysts and their precious earnings models. How much credit should I give beyond that?