These days, there's no shortage of stocks that bring to mind the question, "How low can this stock go?" And that's a good question, indeed -- with some, it seems like no matter how low they go, they can always go lower. This week, let's take a look at the once high-flying Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) .
Last summer, I didn't make many friends when I made an offhand comment in an article about how I thought Crocs might be a fad. Given what transpired in the ensuing months -- as well as some of my warnings as Crocs choked and choked again and, oh, again -- I hope nobody minds if I whisper, "I told you so."
Crocs shares have plunged a gut-wrenching 80% over the course of the last year.
I've always thought the company’s shoes were ugly, but maybe they're a little less ugly with the stock at around $10 per share. And maybe these shoes will always remain popular with a core group of devotees.
I've definitely heard good things about the comfort and durability of Crocs’ proprietary Croslite material, which make the shoes popular with people who are on their feet a lot.
Over the long haul, that practicality trumps the short-term absurdity that marked Crocs' days of momentum craziness, when any news at all seemed to send the stock skyrocketing again and again.
And of course, as the fad built up, Crocs piled on the licensing agreements with companies such as Disney (NYSE: DIS ) and distributed the shoes far and wide. You can find Crocs in all kinds of places, such as Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI ) on the one hand and Hallmark on the other (in fact, on an entirely different person’s hand, since those two venues are so dissimilar).
And then there are the Crocs lookalikes; I've seen them peddled in CVS (NYSE: CVS ) . And, of course, many people have noticed that Skechers' (NYSE: SKX ) Cali Gear shoes bear a striking resemblance to the Croslite wonders (and Crocs has, too, judging by its complaint against Skechers, saying among other things that Skechers' "Cali Bear" logo infringes). Skechers doesn't agree -- its press release called the complaint baseless, stating, "A bear is not a crocodile." They've got a point there.
Faddish popularity can make a company, but it can break it, too, when everybody rushes to provide the same thing. And of course, in fashion, ubiquity can often tire out an item real fast.
The stink of yesterday's footwear fad
Of course, if the stock needed Odor Eaters as it got way overheated at $75, and might have still been a little stinky even in the $40s, now that it's at about $10 a share (at one point, it sank as low as $6.75), it's time to wonder if it's a bargain.
I can see the arguments that there may be little downside. It's currently trading at a mere 6 times earnings, and it has a PEG ratio of just 0.29, for example.
Of course, that's the thing about PEG ratios and growth estimates; you might want to ask yourself how likely it is that the projected growth rates are accurate. Analysts expect 21% growth over the next five years. And if Crocs’ colorful shoes are for the most part a fad, then those estimates could very well be highly questionable.
After all, it could be the next Deckers (Nasdaq: DECK ) or the next Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS ) in terms of staying power. It was difficult to imagine UGG boots as anything but a massive fad, but so far, they're still selling strong. Heelys, on the other hand, has gone down as testament to how fickle kids can be -- and how badly investors can get hosed.
These shoes are made for walkin' ... away
I still don't really believe Crocs has what it takes to make it for the long term. It might do OK for the next year or so, for the short-termers out there. But even with talk of Crocs' performance athletic wear as Plan B, I just don't buy that it's a brand with staying power.
Crocs very well may be cheap as dirt right here, and I totally can't blame anyone for thinking so. (In fact, in April it was recommended by the folks at Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt.) However, given its challenges, my gut instinct is to stay away from Crocs, as tempting as it might appear. I think there are stocks out there that are comparable values, but with better long-term prognoses.