Hot Topic's Cooling Off

In March, I noted that Hot Topic's (Nasdaq: HOTT  ) stock has been hot, but I wondered for how long. Given its most recent quarterly earnings news, the stock looks like it's due to cool off considerably.

Hot Topic's first quarter did manage to beat analysts' expectations. The firm swung to a profit of $1.2 million, or $0.03 per share, versus a loss of $1.4 million, or $0.03 per share this time last year. Total revenue increased 10.1%, to $175.1 million, and same-store sales jumped a solid 7.1%.

However, there was some chilling news in Hot Topic's second-quarter guidance. Analysts were expecting a modest profit of a penny per share, but now it looks like Hot Topic will report a second-quarter loss of $0.04 to $0.06 per share, with same-store sales expected to fall in the mid-single-digit range.

Hot Topic's never been my idea of a great long-term retail stock; it peddles merchandise that caters to teen trends, which are notoriously short-lived. Even though its emphasis on music- and pop culture-related merchandise seems to come from a subversive bent, I've often questioned whether it really gives off any sense of authenticity.

Furthermore, lately, it seems as if a great deal of Hot Topic's turnaround success has been due to the brisk sales of items related to the popular Twilight franchise. However, that trend doesn't strike me as particularly sustainable. And of course, investors who have tangled with stocks such as Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) or Heely's (Nasdaq: HLYS  ) have probably noticed that fads can be lucrative in the short term and disastrous over the long haul.   

In addition, investors might look no further than Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) to see how fickle teens can be; that stock has waxed and waned over the years as teens cycled in and out of finding Abercrombie an attractive brand. Lately, judging by recent financial results, its high-priced fashions are definitely looking to be a bit "out."

Given the recent tumble in its stock, Hot Topic looks a bit cheaper on a relative basis than it did in March. Back then, I noted that it was trading at an outsized 21 times earnings, while other teen retailers with solid performance were trading at far cheaper multiples, firms such as Buckle (NYSE: BKE  ) and Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO  ) .

Even with the recent pullbacks in Hot Topic's stock price, though, it looks to me like Hot Topic is due for a major cooldown, and I still believe long-term investors should avoid it.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2009, at 6:01 PM, Brettze wrote:

    Alyce

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2009, at 6:04 PM, Brettze wrote:

    Alyce

    Crocs is not a shoe fad.. IT IS A SHOE REVOLUTION THAT IS NOW THROUGH NORMAL PHASES OF SETBACKS . Crocs will forge ahead again and grow the shoe revolution that is a first in the long history of foot wear.. Nike was never a shoe revolution. Nike is more of a popular contest... Crocs is a true revolution dawning upon our civilzation as a whole if not throughout the whole universe.. Hello out there?, can I interest you with a great pair of Crocs, hmpzh?

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