It's been a case of bad news and ... less bad news for shareholders of Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation New York & Co.
Bad as this news looks, though, it's concerned primarily with the past. What's important now is where this company is headed. Sadly, I don't see a whole lot to be optimistic about here. Including JasmineSola, the combined company grossed just 29.5% on its sales in Q3. Back out the JasmineSola numbers, though, and NYC still only grosses 29.7%. That 20-basis point improvement still leaves the core NYC far short of the gross margins achieved by most any competitor you could name: Gap
Last week, I promised to focus on cash flow at the continuing operations -- NYC CEO Richard Crystal argues that a 6% decline in "inventory per average store" shows he is "controlling inventory and managing expenses." Most of the time this should result in the expansion of free cash flow. Unfortunately, that is not the case here.
The way I read the balance sheet, total inventory at the company has grown 15% since this time last year. If per-store inventory (a figure I can neither confirm nor deny) is indeed down 6%, that could mean that the expanding store base is carrying fewer inventories per store. But it doesn't change the fact that, as a whole, the company has 15% more cash held up in total inventory.
The firm's cash flow statement supports my interpretation of the numbers. Through the first nine months of last year, this company generated negative $33 million in cash. That's pretty awful, but not quite as awful as this week's news: So far this year, the company has used more than $50 million in cash. Maybe ridding itself of JasmineSola will fix that -- but I wouldn't bet on it.
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