Which Discount Retail Chain Is the Best Bargain for Your Portfolio?

Discounts on name-brand clothing have never been more in style than they are now. Newcomer to the public scene Burlington Stores (NYSE: BURL  ) may not be the most exciting investment in history, but like its competitors Ross Stores (NASDAQ: ROST  ) and TJX  (NYSE: TJX  ) , it attracts the increasing number of budget-conscious consumers while helping to provide an oasis for investors.

Burlington Stores results
Burlington Stores reported its fiscal third-quarter results on Dec. 10. Total sales popped 10% to $1.065 billion, while same-store sales rose 3.9%. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) jumped 28.3% to $62.5 million.

CEO Tom Kingsbury simply credited store and corporate teams for the growth. He said that the company is focused on growing its number of stores, growing the sales per store, and growing the profitability of the sales. For the fourth quarter, Burlington expects same-store sales to increase by between 2% and 3% with a full-year 0.3% to 0.4% improvement in profitability margins.

In the conference call, Kingsbury explained that Burlington's prices are 60% to 70% below those of traditional department stores as the current economic environment helps fill its pipeline of inventory while also sparking demand. Burlington's long-term goal is to build out a total of more than 1,000 stores, or roughly double the current store count of 521.

Based on recent experiences in opening new stores, Burlington expects each new outlet to bring in an average of $7 million to $8 million in annual sales and $1 million in EBITDA. Since the company only had $62.5 million in earnings at 500 stores, adding $1 million each in EBITDA would be enormous.

On top of this, Burlington believes that it has a huge opportunity to add brands within its stores. It currently has just 4,000 brands, while its two primary competitors have 8,000 and 16,000 brands each. This leaves a potential opportunity to expand brands by two to three times their current count. Kingsbury is "excited about our current performance and momentum as we head into the fourth quarter and 2014."

How does Burlington stack up against Ross Stores and TJX?
Ross Stores saw strong growth numbers last quarter, though it was a bit slower than at Burlington Stores. Ross Stores revenue gained 6% to $2.398 billion, while same-store sales inched up 2%. Earnings per share rose 11.1% to $0.80.

CEO Michael Balmuth of Ross Stores cautioned, "We are up against our own challenging multi-year comparisons and an upcoming holiday season that we believe will be the most intensely competitive and promotional selling period in recent years." In contrast, Burlington Stores said in its conference call that it believes the activity on the promotional front is similar to any other fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, TJX reported the best growth out of the bunch. For its third quarter, TJX saw sales leap 9%, same-store sales pop 5%, and adjusted earnings per share explode 21% to $0.75.

CEO Carol Meyrowitz stated that this beat the company's own expectations. She said that it is testament that TJX can "succeed in all types of economic and retail environments." Long-term, she sees continued "substantial top- and bottom-line growth."

Foolish final thoughts
While some department store retailers are struggling with the economy, discount chains such as Burlington Stores are embracing it. The company has a big opportunity to grow its stores, brands, and profitability in the quarters and years ahead. Burlington deserves a closer look by Fools seeking a retail company that is succeeding at growing now and operates in an industry that has the potential to grow in the future, regardless of whether times are good or bad.

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  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 7:01 PM, JAVKO wrote:

    Why does it not matter at all in this market to make any money whatsoever?

    Just the growth hype which never materializes into any actual rofit on any measure!

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4/17/2014 4:01 PM
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