G-III Apparel Makes All the Right Moves

From the looks of its fourth-quarter report, G-III Apparel (Nasdaq: GIII  ) ended the year quite fashionably, given the economic climate. In addition to positing an adjusted $0.15 earnings per share against last year's $0.03 and a 30.2% increase in sales, management's recent moves to bolster its outerwear and performance apparel lines appear to offer stylish potential.

In December, the company furthered its relationship with Phillips-Van Heusen (NYSE: PVH  ) by extending its licensing relationship to include a line of athletic wear for women called Calvin Klein Performance. G-III already manufactures a line of outerwear for the brand, as well as some lines of dresses and suits for women. The company acknowledged a few problems in launching the performance apparel line, but said it corrected them quickly. Last week, in its own fourth-quarter call, Phillips-Van Heusen voiced approval of the way G-III is handling the brand.

Subsequent to the quarter's end, G-III completed the acquisition of outerwear maker Andrew Marc. G-III has been eager to make room for a luxury brand in its portfolio, and this acquisition definitely fits the bill; the line is carried by Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN  ) , and Saks (NYSE: SKS  ) . Andrew Marc brings with it several licenses for Dockers and Levi's (adding to G-III's mid-tier business) and economies of scale.

While the additional outerwear business will contribute to G-III's seasonality trends, the company believes the acquisition will also provide favorable financial benefits such as enhancing profit margins for both the line and the company. Later on, G-III hopes to become a licensor of the brand, further exploiting its profit potential.

Management addressed the weak retail climate with reassuring comments about their flow of orders, announcing that book orders are significantly up. CEO Morris Goldfarb opined that retailers may be concentrating on top-tier vendors and that second- and third-tier vendors may see reduced orders or be eliminated altogether. If this is the case, given the plans to market the Calvin Klein brand across all lines, retailers would certainly be unlikely to abandon it.

Given the still-developing picture, with its new lines and the overall economic outlook, G-III was hesitant to provide full-year guidance at this point. However, it is looking for first-quarter sales of $60 million and an earnings per share loss of $0.47 to $0.51 (due to seasonality). Management anticipates the Andrew Marc acquisition will be accretive in the 2009 fiscal year.

It is unlikely any catalyst will emerge to drive this stock price in the next few months. However, with the addition of a profit-enhanced Andrew Marc outerwear line and the full launch of the Calvin Klein Performance line, this fall could be a breakout season for G-III Apparel.

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