When considering the retail sector, long-term growth investors are often well served to find companies with brands that resonate well with loyal consumer bases. One such company with solid brand power is apparel, footwear, and accessories manufacturer Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK ) .
The company's solid footholds into niche lifestyle markets like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding mean that it has diversification and relatively few direct brand competitors. Despite a struggling share price in the last year or so, Quiksilver is growing well in emerging markets and has large upside potential going forward.
Three core brands
The company's three main brands are Quiksilver, a surfing brand; Roxy, a snowboarding brand; and DC, a skateboarding brand. While these three brands each target a specific outdoor athlete, they also share many similarities and therefore compliment each other well.
Quicksilver, Roxy, and DC all focus on an active lifestyle and target a consumer that primarily likes to be outdoors. This specific focus on outdoor activities puts the company in competition with larger industry stalwarts like VF Corp (NYSE: VFC ) and Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ: COLM ) .
VF is the most formidable competitor in the space, with hugely popular brands like The North Face, Timberland, and Vans. VF's outdoor and action sports category accounts for over 50% of its total revenue and grew 14% in its most recently reported quarter, driven by 14% sales growth in The North Face, 12% sales growth in Timberland, and 20% sales growth in Vans.
Columbia has also been performing quite well recently. The company grew its revenue 22% in its most-recent quarter. The strong results were driven largely by continued success in its signature outdoors brands Columba and Sorel. However, the company is also busy expanding into new product markets like yoga with the recent acquisition of Prana Living.
Growth challenges and opportunities:
The solid performances of both VF and Columbia indicate that the active, outdoor lifestyle segment is a popular one that is still growing quite well. According to Yahoo! Finance analysts project that VF will grow its revenue 8% in 2014 and Columbia will grow its revenue 19.1%.
This is what makes Quiksilver's recent struggles worrisome. Analysts on average expect the company to grow sales just 0.7% in the fiscal year ending October 2014.
Additionally, in its most-recent quarter, the company reported a 2% decline in sales year-over-year, due mostly to a 7% decline in its wholesale unit.
The company's retail unit, however, increased sales 4% on same-store sales growth of 2% and 4.9% growth in new company-owned retail stores. The highlights for Quiksilver in the first quarter were e-commerce, which grew 16%, and emerging markets, which grew 32%.
On the most recent conference call, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mooney explained:
Coming to the revenue growth part of our plan. We made investments in our high-growth emerging markets, specifically Brazil, Russia, Mexico and Indonesia. And we made progress building out our e-commerce platform and team.
The best and worst parts about the company's successful emerging markets and e-commerce segments is that they are relatively small contributors to growth at the current time. While their diminutive sizes mean that they can't boost Quiksilver's overall sales growth in the short term, this also means that there is huge growth potential on the horizon.
In the first quarter, the company's Asia/Pacific segment generated only $69.9 million in revenue; its Americas segment generated $173.2 million; and its Europe/Middle East/Africa segment generated $149.4 million.
Also, the company's e-commerce division generated revenue of just $23 million in the quarter, which represents only 5.9% of the company's total first-quarter revenue. This means that significant room for growth exists in both areas going forward. If management's efforts to focus on these growth drivers are successful, Quiksilver should experience more robust sales momentum in the future.
Quiksilver might not be an enormous company with a market capitalization of just $1 billion, but it has three primary labels with considerable brand strength in popular niche lifestyle product segments.
Although the company has been met with challenges to its growth in the form of struggling wholesale operations, its revenue expansion opportunities in emerging markets and e-commerce initiatives remain huge and could deliver upside to patient long-term growth investors. This simple fact makes the company worth a closer look by Foolish investors.
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