4 Strategic Initiatives Will Drive Cabela's Business Forward

In the outdoor-retailing industry, Cabela's (NYSE: CAB  ) has significantly outperformed the general market and industry peers, including Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN  ) and Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS  ) . In the past five years, while Cabela's total return reached more than 1,000%, Urban Outfitters and Dick's Sporting Goods delivered total returns of only 130.8% and 424.4%, respectively. At nearly 17.4 times its forward earnings, could Cabela's stock price go higher in the future? Or is it expensive already?

Cabela's consistently improving performance
Most of the Cabela's business, around 45.3% of its total revenue, comes from sales of hunting equipment. General outdoor items and clothing and footwear are next, representing 29.8% and 24.9%, respectively, of total revenue in 2012. What makes long-term investors excited is the company's consistently improving operating performance since 2009. In the past four years, the company has keyed in on on four main strategic initiatives such as focusing on fundamentals, creating a dominant omnichannel model, speeding up retail expansion, and having the best loyalty program to attract and retain customers.

Cabela's has managed to increase its merchandise margin from 34.6% in 2009 to 36.3% in 2012. Its non-generally accepted accounting principles earnings per share have also been on the rise, from $1.36 per share in 2009 to $2.72 in 2012. Interestingly, Cabela's seems to generate more profits from reinvestments, which was illustrated by a growing return on invested capital. In the past four years, its ROIC has moved up by 480 basis points, from 11% to 15.8%.

Omnichannel strategy is the key for future growth
Second, Cabela's has a dominant omnichannel model. Customers can be reached in different ways including by radio, TV, catalogs, emails, and other digital communications. Then customers could reach the company and purchase products via retail stores or online via Cabelas.com. Cabela's also provides in-store pickup services for customers. In order to improve its retail business model, it plans to expand omnichannel fulfillment in around 20 retail stores by the middle of this year.

As a part of its omnichannel strategy, Dick's Sporting Goods also utilizes cash flow to invest in technology and processes to enhance its ability to create online orders in stores, provide a convenient shopping experience for customers, and ship orders for free. Actually, to further improve inventory turnover, Dick's Sporting Goods has asked vendors to ship directly to shoppers in the past few years. In the near future, it will try the model of online order and in-store pickup, driving more customers into the stores.

Urban Outfitters also invested in systems to combine inventory across both retail stores and direct channels. Chief investment officer Calvin Hollinger commented that the company could take orders from different sources such as the company's website, call center, and customers' mobile devices -- or even from an out-of-stock situation in the store. With that capability, a store could sell products from other stores' inventory as well.

Third, investors benefited by the rapid retail expansion of Cabela's. The new retail square footage has grown significantly, from 80,000 to an estimated range of 900,000 to 1.1 million by 2014. Last but not least, with the loyalty program, Cabela's has managed to have more than 1.6 million active members in its Cabela's Club Visa, which contributed around 29% of the company's total sales. The members have used Cabela's Club Visa in other places to generate points so that they could be awarded company's free merchandise, which was worth around $200 million in total in 2013. . 

My Foolish take
Cabela's does not trade at a significantly higher earnings multiple than both Urban Outfitters and Dick's Sporting Goods. Urban Outfitters' and Dick's Sporting Goods' forward earnings valuations are a bit lower than that of Cabela's, at 16.8 and 17.1, respectively. However, if the growth was factored in, Cabela's is the cheapest, valued at only 1.1 times its PEG ratio. While Dick's Sporting Goods has the highest PEG ratio at 1.3, the PEG ratio of Urban Outfitters stays at 1.2. As Cabela's has experienced improving performance over time and has the lowest PEG ratio, , it could fit well in the growth portfolios of long-term investors.

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  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2014, at 4:16 PM, justaguy wrote:

    Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Cabela's may be the only retailer which actually owns their credit card, instead of some Wall Street bank. All of those profits go to their bottom line, so Cabela's is part retailer and part bank.

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