Growth and Income From Limited Brands

Legendary retailer Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD  ) is doing quite well juggling a number of store concepts, including Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Express, and Limited. Apparel may be keeping the company off growth stock investors' shelves, but that's just fine to more conservative-minded Fools.

Limited Brands generates solid cash flow, which it uses to pay a respectable 2.2% annual dividend. Plus, Victoria's Secret is one of the most successful retail stores out there and accounts for nearly half of total sales. Bath & Body Works accounts for another 25% or so of sales and is also a solid performer. Apparel, which consists primarily of the Express and Limited stores, has been the laggard.

Fourth-quarter results released Wednesday confirm the store brand pecking order, as same-store sales improved 10% at Victoria's Secret, 9% at Bath & Body Works, and 1% for apparel.

So what can Fools expect? For starters, Limited Brands throws off ample operating cash flow and likely will continue buying back stock and paying a nice dividend. It may also surprise investors again someday, as it did in 2004 by declaring a special dividend of $1.23 per share.

Also, it could always free some brands from the corporate fold. There is a precedent: Limited Brands has already spun off Tween Brands (NYSE: TWB  ) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) in recent years. A spinoff of either Victoria's Secret or Bath & Body Works would probably go over well, leaving the slower-growing but cash-rich apparel businesses.

As it stands, Limited Brands has a number of brands with solid growth potential but is also able to generate substantial cash flow and benefit shareholders via dividend payments and stock buybacks. That may frustrate pure-growth or dividend-seeking investors, but might just be the right combination to those seeking a bit of both.

For related Foolishness:

Limited Brands is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. To find out how this and other great dividend-paying stock made the cut, sign up today for your free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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