Timberland (NYSE: TBL ) may not seem like a very ladylike stock pick. This brand brings to mind construction workers, rappers, and rugged outdoorsy types.
However, consider this solid rule of thumb: Just because a company's products aren't quite your style doesn't mean its stock won't look great in your portfolio.
Timberland's share price has rocketed this year, but the company reported a "disappointing" quarter earlier this month, sending the price plunging earthward again. Still, investors should think twice before walking away from this stock.
Granted, Timberland's quarterly net income did drop by 30%. Rising costs for all-important boot leather, as well as labor and transportation, took their toll on profit. The company's also delaying price increases on its products until later in the year.
Remember, inflation's hitting lots of retailers and consumer goods companies, all of which have to grapple with whether to pass costs on immediately to skittish consumers, or hold off and try to retain loyalty. The problem is even hitting discount retail giants such as Costco (Nasdaq: COST ) , which recently reported quarterly results that didn't please some investors. Delaying price hikes (and taking a hit on profitability in the near term) may be a wise move in these tricky times. In a more general sense, Timberland's not alone in experiencing higher costs that pinch profits.
Timberland's inventory also shot up 36.5%. This yellow flag bears watching; when inventories grow more quickly than sales, it could mean that products are piling up unsold, which in turn could require later markdowns to move that merchandise out the door.
Still, Timberland's quarterly results included positive elements that many investors might be ignoring. Total quarterly sales increased by 10%, and Timberland reported heartening success in its U.S. specialty stores, where comps increased by 27%.
A step ahead of the pack
Timberland might seem like just another shoe stock, of which there are plenty to choose from. Nike (NYSE: NKE ) , Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) , and Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) number among the usual suspects. However, investors may not know about Timberland's key distinction: a long-standing mission to "do well by doing good." That positive focus is a major reason why Alyce bought this stock for her Rising Stars portfolio in November.
Plenty of companies want an earth-friendly reputation tehse days, but Timberland was way ahead of the curve, infusing that mission into its business long before it was "corporate cool."
For example, Timberland launched its eco-minded Green Index labels for its products in 2006, long before big companies like Nike and Target (NYSE: TGT ) piled into similar initiatives. You'll see similarly forward-thinking spirit in Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz's recent challenge to Apple, contrasting "cool" and "responsible" types of corporate behavior.
Timberland's current "big idea" is its Earthkeepers product line. These products, which include footwear, jeans, and other gear, incorporate recycled materials and are manufactured in ways to reduce negative environmental impact. So far, the company sees promising signs from this eco-friendly line. (Alyce also digs Earthkeepers' "Nature Needs Heroes" commercial for its excellent use of the song Sons & Daughters by Gilt Complex.)
While Timberland's highly recognizable, durable work boots lend a strong foundation to its core business, fresh and forward-looking ideas like Earthkeepers suggest a lot more potential growth in the future. This company's not resting on old laurels, and it's ready for the new generation.
It's never fun to see a high-flying stock you own get knocked down a few pegs. But if you're a long-term investor practicing ladylike patience, you'll going to take such times in stride -- or use the opportunity to buy more shares.
Right now, Timberland's valuation looks far cheaper than it did when it hit a 52-week high of $45.72. It's currently trading at 19 times trailing earnings, with a PEG ratio of 1.13.
Although that looks cheaper than footwear peers Crocs, and about on par with Nike, bear in mind that Timberland's got growth drivers up its sleeve, a strong balance sheet -- $265 million in cash and no debt! -- and a benevolent mission that really helps the company stand out.
Stand by your stocks
We girls think that unless your investment thesis radically changes, you should stand by your stocks for the long haul. That's the case with Timberland. Resist the temptation to run for the exits. If the company's long-term growth potential remains intact, a few months of negativity won't hurt your portfolio one bit.
Let us know what you think in the comments box below, and thanks for tuning into Stock Picks with Chicks.
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