What's Bad for Coach Is Good for Kors

Shares of Coach (NYSE: COH  ) opened 7% lower this morning after the company posted disappointing quarterly results. Soft sales and a larger decline in profitability than what was expected will do that to a former market darling, but this is no longer a niche-defining event. 

A couple of years ago, weakness in Coach would've signaled softness in the luxury market. Other premium handbag and accessory makers would've buckled in sympathy. But Coach is no longer a bellwether. In fact, as shares of Coach were trading sharply lower on the report, rival Michael Kors (NYSE: KORS  ) was moving higher.

Shares of Kors opened higher and continued to rise through the first couple of hours of the trading day. After all, bad news for Coach doesn't mean that Kors is also in a funk. If anything, it means that more Coach shoppers are trading in their gear for the more fashionable MK items. 

Investors know the drill. Three months ago, Coach also saw its quarterly sales, net income, and comps decline. A few weeks later, Kors checked in with a 39% surge in revenue that was spearheaded by a 23% spike in comps. The bottom line grew even faster. 

The quarter before that was more of the same. Coach's report was a disappointment with net sales and adjusted earnings climbing 6% and 1%, respectively. It was a different world at Kors, where sales and profitability skyrocketed 55% and 82%, respectively.

Kors can't offer investors the quarterly distributions that income investors get out of Coach. Then again, it's hard to argue that a 2.6% yield on top of a stock that was essentially flat in 2013 is somehow the better investment than Kors, which rose 87% in 2012 and another 59% in 2013. 

Yes, Kors trades at a steeper multiple, but it's also been able to consistently beat Wall Street expectations every quarter since going public at $20 in late 2011. You can't say that about Coach, which has only beaten analyst profit targets twice over the past five quarters.

Today may be a bad day for Coach investors, but come back in two weeks when Kors reports. It's likely to be an entirely different scene, just as we have seen in each of the past few quarters. Coach may very well bounce back, but don't make the mistake of assuming that any negativity in the numbers will bleed into the performance of Kors. 

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