Shares of Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) soared 105.5% in 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the casual footwear company made significant progress implementing its ongoing turnaround.
But it wasn't exactly a straight walk up the hill. Shares first rallied in January after Crocs raised its fourth-quarter 2017 revenue outlook. But the stock followed with a steep plunge in late February when Crocs not only incurred a wider-than-expected loss in the same holiday period, but also told investors that revenue in 2018 was expected be roughly flat -- albeit primarily as the impact of strategic store closures was poised to offset growth from wholesale and e-commerce channels.
Things took a turn for the better when multiple Wall Street analysts stepped out in March to defend Crocs in the face of its post-earnings decline. Sure enough, Crocs shares continued to drift higher over the next few months as its turnaround began to take shape. The company raised its initially underwhelming guidance with each of its three subsequent quarterly updates, most recently culminating in a more than 35% rise in November alone following its strong third-quarter 2018 report.
In that report, Crocs detailed better-than-expected revenue growth of 7.3% (to $261.1 million), while simultaneously swinging from a $0.03 per-share loss to net income of $6.5 million, or $0.07 per share, far better than analysts' average prediction for a loss of $0.01 per share.
Crocs CEO Andrew Rees credited the company's Q3 growth to "executing against [their] strategic priorities," adding, "We anticipate a strong finish to the year and have increased our 2018 guidance accordingly, and we are excited about our growth prospects for 2019."
Crocs followed in early December by announcing an agreement with Blackstone Capital Partners to repurchase and convert 13.8 million shares of the company. Half will be bought back by Crocs and the other half will be converted to common shares by Blackstone, which acquired the stake as part of a $200 million investment in Crocs in early 2014. The deal removed the overhang of an even larger conversion, as well as Crocs' obligation to pay a hefty preferred-share dividend.
Crocs also took the opportunity last month to reaffirm its latest guidance calling for full-year 2018 revenue to climb 4% to 5% from $1.0235 billion in 2017, and for gross margin to climb roughly 100 basis points from 50.5% in 2017.
Finally, Crocs believes revenue in 2019 will climb in the mid-single-digit percent range, or high-single-digit growth, excluding a roughly $25 million reduction related to store closures.
In the end, as Crocs repeatedly over delivered through its steady shift back to sustained, profitable growth last year, it was no surprise to see its stock price respond in kind.