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Skechers Sprints to the Head of Wall Street; P&G's Mixed Report Left It Limping

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 24, 2017 at 9:40PM

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The footwear company outperformed all other stocks Friday, rising 35% after reporting blowout Q3 profits. For Procter & Gamble, earnings got the opposite reception.

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill, Million Dollar Portfolio's Jason Moser and Matt Argersinger, and Total Income's Ron Gross discuss what Skechers (SKX -0.81%) is doing right in an otherwise troubled segment -- which is almost everything. Rivals Under Armour and Nike have had it rough, but Skechers is gaining traction.

Meanwhile, over in the consumer goods sector, Procter & Gamble (PG 1.61%) had a beat on profits, a miss on revenue, and a beat-down from investors. The problem isn't a lack of good brands; it may be the failure of a giant to respond nimbly to changing tastes and its failure to return value to shareholders.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Oct. 20, 2017.

Chris Hill: On Friday, the biggest winner on the New York Stock Exchange was Skechers USA. Blowout profits in the third quarter send shares of the footwear retailer up more than 35%. A lot of good stuff in the Skechers report. Ron, what was your headline?

Ron Gross: Didn't See That Coming. [laughs] Is that a good one? I guess, maybe. International wholesale business up 26%; same-store sales up 4.4%; domestic wholesale operations turned positive for the first time earlier this year -- hasn't been positive in a while. So perhaps they're firing on all cylinders, ish. Expectations went pretty darn well. The stock wasn't even up before this week. So this represents the complete appreciation for the entire year. Low expectations, the numbers came in good, we saw the stock soar.

Hill: And since you referred to yourself in the previous segment as a value guy, what do you do with a situation like this? This was a stock that was down, and there weren't huge expectations. They crushed them. Credit for that. What do you do with a stock that's up 35% in one day?

Gross: First, understand that net income being up 42% is a little misleading, because they had a huge tax benefit it. So operating earnings were only up about 13%, first thing to recognize. Stock was relatively cheap at 15 times. Now, after the move, we're at 18.5. Still, not too shabby, pretty cheap still, as long as they can continue to execute. And based on their comments, it looks like they will, at least for the next year.

Hill: Procter & Gamble's first-quarter report was mixed. Profits higher than expected, revenue lower than expected. The report was mixed, Jason. The reaction to the report was just flat-out negative.

Jason Moser: Yeah. I really feel like this should be a better investment than it has been recently. It reminds me a lot of McCormick, in that I defy you to find a household in this country that doesn't have at least a couple of Procter & Gamble's products in it.

But the problem is that it's a really big business now, at a $230 billion market cap. And so you need to see value start coming back in the form of dividends, share buybacks, and what-not. They're not really nailing it on the repurchase side. It's down, the count is just about 4.5% since 2013. I can see why Nelson Peltz was trying to go activist here. I think there is probably an opportunity to unlock some value there.

If you look at this consumer space now, we're seeing more brands coming to market that are focusing on these messages of being more environmentally friendly, more customer-centric. Look at Harry's razors, for example. That's a sponsor of our show, and they're taking that razor business and really focusing on that customer-centric model. And I think Gillette has really let that pass them by. And I think one of Harry's competitors was even acquired by Unilever (UN) (UL 1.00%). So you don't want to wake up 10 years from now and look at the space and think, "What in the hell just happened here?" It's not going to happen overnight, but it will happen, slowly but surely. You can let these new brands pass you right by, and then Procter & Gamble could find themselves in a real pickle.

So, a big business with a lot of great friends. I think they probably just need to do a better job of exploiting that and figuring out new ways to return value to shareholders.

Hill: As you said, Procter & Gamble, $230 billion. General Electric, which we led the show with, just over $200 billion. Let's say, for the sake of argument, you don't want to go the radical Matt Argersinger route of cut the dividend to zero.

Matt Argersinger: Cut everything!

Hill: Isn't the obvious move with these two huge, diverse businesses to just start identifying major divisions to sell off? Because there was a point in time where a big part of Procter & Gamble's business, or certainly a significant part, was food. We saw them shed that pretty steadily over the past decade. It really seems like, between GE and Procter & Gamble, there should be a lot of business units that are on sale right now.

Moser: I think with Procter & Gamble, it's a very easy argument to make, because they have so many brands in that portfolio. You go through and identify 10 to 15 laggards and just get rid of them and really focus on what you're doing well. As far as General Electric, I'll let Ron speak to that.

Gross: You've got to get rid of something. Interestingly with the GE, the healthcare business, which the new CEO ran, could be one to get rid of, because it doesn't necessarily fit in the other industrial businesses. But it happens to be a really strong one. So that could be one way to unlock some value.

Hill: They're keeping the lights, though, right? They're keeping the lighting business?

Gross: [laughs] Don't worry. They bring good things to life.

Moser: Let's be clear. Procter & Gamble's been a good investment for investors over the last five years. You've made money. But it's been outpaced by the market, and that's really the measuring stick you need to consider.

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Stocks Mentioned

Unilever PLC Stock Quote
Unilever PLC
$46.29 (1.00%) $0.46
The Procter & Gamble Company Stock Quote
The Procter & Gamble Company
$146.11 (1.61%) $2.32
Unilever N.V. Stock Quote
Unilever N.V.
Skechers U.S.A., Inc. Stock Quote
Skechers U.S.A., Inc.
$35.29 (-0.81%) $0.29

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