Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Retail Sector

The U.S. retail sector is that segment of the U.S. economy related to consumer purchases at the retail level. In the simplest form, the retail sector consists of Americans buying goods and services at retail establishments…stores. The retail sector accounts for about 10% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

This Luxury Retailer Now Affordable?

By for Profit Confidential

Should You Take This Opportunity to Buy This Luxury StockThe top one percent are spending and don’t really care about the other 99%. For the retail sector and particularly the luxury-brand stocks, this is welcome news.

High-end jeweler Tiffany & Co. (NYSE/TIF) pleased investors and Wall Street on Wednesday after reporting better-than-expected results and increasing its fiscal 2015 earnings estimate for the second time. Consumers in the Americas, Asia, and Europe are spending in the retail sector.

While Tiffany is now near the top of its 52-week range and near a fair valuation, there are a couple of other luxury-brand stocks that may be worth a look.

In the luxury apparel and accessories area, Coach, Inc. (NYSE/COH), a former darling of Wall Street, is struggling just above its 52-week low. While there could be a speculative contrarian buying opportunity with Coach, the anemic revenue outlook would make me think twice. Fiscal 2015 revenues are estimated to contract 11.4% and rebound a mere 3.3% in fiscal 2016. These are not good metrics; unless you want a speculative trade, I would be looking elsewhere in the retail sector.

For a much better luxury apparel buying opportunity in the retail sector, you could take a look at a stock like Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NYSE/KORS), which is my favorite in this area. The stock is currently struggling and down 18% from its 52-week high of $101.04 on February 25, 2014, which suggests it could be a good buying opportunity

Concerns of slower growth rates have been hurting the stock, but the reality is that the growth continues to be excellent, especially for a company with a market cap of more than $16.0 … Read More

The New Land of Oz

By for Profit Confidential

When Gold Will Finally BottomYesterday was an amazing day for the markets.

Gold bullion hit a three-month low despite: 1) inflation rising rapidly in North America; and 2) the Chinese buying half of this year’s world gold production.

The stock market was up to a new high despite: 1) corporate insiders selling like mad; 2) corporate earnings growth collapsing; 3) the amount of money investors have borrowed to buy stocks standing at a record high; and 4) the economy stinking.

In the words of Robert Appel, my esteemed colleague, the following best describes what is happening with the markets:

“Time to take those ruby slippers out of the closet because we are definitely on our way to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ show once again. There is a view that the government and its ‘special contractor’ (the Fed) have things under control and we are now at the beginning of the biggest stock bull in history. We don’t buy that theory for a minute but we do acknowledge it exists.

“Those opposing this view—an ever-declining number—suggest that if inflation were defined as it was when the greatest economic minds of our age were still alive—the U.S. economy would be in big trouble. The recent corporate earnings wipeout in the retail sector was one of the most under-reported financial stories of the year.

“Interestingly (this is too bizarre to make up) the only major upside surprise in the retail sector in respect to first quarter earnings reports was Tiffany’s…where they can barely keep up with demand. No surprise for our readers as the ‘gap’ between rich and poor under QE [quantitative easing] has only intensified. QE … Read More

The Opportunity Coming to the Luxury Retail Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

The Pros and Cons I See in the Retail Sector Right NowWe all know how bad this winter has been so far. The harsh weather across the majority of the country has impacted jobs growth, commerce, housing, and consumer spending.

Of course, with the spring season on the horizon, we’ll soon see if the weak economic metrics mentioned were really an aberration due to the weather—or a sign of further slowing to come.

From what I can tell right now, we are definitely seeing some growth issues in the retail sector that have been attributed to the winter weather. The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE/HD) reported a somewhat flat quarter, as did Lowes Companies, Inc. (NYSE/LOW). However, I understand why they’ve reported flat numbers—it’s winter; who wants to renovate or build when it’s so cold outside?

Bellwether Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT) is also struggling to attract consumers to its doors. The global retailer delivered flat sales and earnings growth in its fiscal 2014; revenues grew a mere 1.6%, while earnings growth was not much better at an even two percent. Clearly, we are seeing some hesitancy in consumer spending and the retail sector.

The winter-related turmoil is not confined to just one area, though; it has impacted many retailers. However, the luxury side appears to be faring well, with excellent growth still at Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NYSE/KORS). This luxury retailer is providing staggering growth despite the sluggish retail sector. (Read “Stock Falling, but Rich Still Spending; My Top Luxury Stock Play.”) Clearly, the more affluent part of the masses continues to do very well, especially with the continued advance in the stock market, which has produced many new millionaires…. Read More

Why the Winter Storm Is Skewing More Than Jobs Growth

By for Profit Confidential

Winter Storm Skewing More Than Jobs GrowthOld Man Winter appears to be killing the retail sector and the economic renewal. Extreme cold and nasty weather has engulfed about 70% of the country, reaching as far south as Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, which don’t traditionally experience winter weather.

All that nasty weather means less driving to the malls and shops, which, judging by the numbers, appears to have been the case over the last two months. And if consumers don’t spend, the retail sector hurts and this translates into softer gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Retail sales contracted by 0.4% in January, which represented the second straight month of declines following a revised contraction of 0.1% in December, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The poor showings were attributed to the weather.

With consumers staying at home, we are hearing whispers that fourth-quarter GDP growth could be revised downward from its initial 3.2%.

And while it’s too early to call for the economy to weaken, continued bad weather could mean just that. Now there are, of course, other reasons for the lackluster retail sector metrics.

There’s still a sense that the jobs market continues to be fragile following the creation of a mere 74,000 jobs in December that was blamed on the weather. Yet January was only marginally better with the creation of 113,000 jobs, which was well below the 185,000 estimate.

The jobs numbers are horrible, and unless they start to improve, I expect consumers to continue to feel hesitant about spending in the retail sector.

As I wrote in a previous commentary, investing in the retail sector will be much more difficult this … Read More

Stock Falling, but Rich Still Spending; My Top Luxury Stock Play

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Luxury Retailer Is Simply the BestThe stock market is in turmoil and looking for help from buyers. While some are calling for investors to run to the exits, I look at weakness and market chaos as a buying opportunity.

It’s simply unrealistic to think that all stocks deserve to fall during a market adjustment like what we are seeing at this time. There are good companies out there that will stage a strong rally when the tide in the stock market turns.

In the retail sector, we saw a gasp of air from troubled J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE/JCP), as the former retail sector and Wall Street darling struggles to stay afloat. With about $2.0 billion or so of liquidity left, it’s going to be a race against the clock. J. C. Penney reported a 3.1% jump in comparable-store sales during the holiday shopping season, which is a good result for this turnaround play. (I’d rather stick with these two contrarian retail sector plays, though, which you can read about in “These Retail ‘Screw-ups’ Could Turn Things Around This Year.”)

My top luxury play in the retail sector, as many of you know, is Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NYSE/KORS).

In November 2013, I wrote, “The chart of Michael Kors shows the steady upward trend in the stock since the beginning of 2012. There is some congestion and resistance at this time…but we are seeing a bullish ascending triangle and a possible upside breakout on the horizon, based on my technical analysis.” The stock was up 20% Tuesday morning. (Read “My Favorite Pick Among the Luxury Brand Stocks.”)

It’s obvious why … Read More

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