One brand. No moat. Tons of competition. That's why I lost interest in Bare Escentuals' (Nasdaq: BARE ) stock awhile back. That also seems to be the conclusion some investors are coming to today, seeing how its shares have plunged more than 30% since its quarterly earnings report.
Net income increased 22% to $24.7 million, or $0.26 per share. Revenue increased 11.6% to $138.6 million. Those figures might not sound too bad, but bear in mind that Bare Escentuals gave slightly less rosy guidance for the year than Wall Street was expecting.
There may be other troubling signs. Bare Escentuals' inventory surged by 45% on a year-over-year basis, surpassing its sales increase. Accounts receivable also increased 31%. In the conference call, management said the inventory growth was because it brought kit assembly operations and fulfillment in-house, which it says will provide "greater quality and flexibility at a lower overall cost." It also said the growth in accounts receivable reflected growth in the wholesale channel.
Of course, a major inventory buildup evident at Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) last fall started giving hints that turbulent times were ahead, even though management insisted everything was going according to plan. It's a situation that bears watching.
Last but not least, Bare Escentuals' significant debt load bugs me. It has nearly $250 million in debt, and just $31 million in cash.
Meanwhile, competition is stepping up at a rapid pace. I noted months ago that you could find similar products at the drugstore (such as L'Oreal's "Bare Naturale," Revlon's (NYSE: REV ) ColorStay Mineral Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ ) Neutrogena's "Mineral Sheers"). Then I noted seeing "Sheer Cover," which also does the infomercial circuit.
I recently visited Prescriptives' website (one of Estee Lauder's (NYSE: EL ) many brands), and noticed that it was advertising its very own version of mineral makeup ("Good for you. Good for your skin." Ahem). Do a Google search for "mineral makeup." You'll see.
Add in the rough consumer climate, and I think it's a pretty terrible time to invest in an upstart makeup brand that was born of infomercials, has attracted all manner of copycats, and may very well prove to be a makeup fad. Given all these factors, even with today's price drop, Bare Escentuals' stock doesn't look like a beautiful -- or particularly safe -- long-term stock idea to me.