If you were looking at the brick-and-mortar retail sector over the past few months with an eye on the success stories, one theme you'd have picked up on was that price-conscious Americans were steering a lot of business toward the discount end of the shopping center. A great fourth quarter for an upscale chain like lululemon athletica (NASDAQ:LULU) doesn't fit with that narrative. But based on the improved outlook that management just delivered, that seems to be what it had.
In this segment of the MarketFoolery podcast, host Chris Hill talks about lululemon's various winning strategies with longtime Fool contributor Dan Kline -- who surprisingly knows a thing or two about why it's worth paying a premium for top-quality yoga pants.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 14, 2019.
Chris Hill: Lululemon Athletica shares up 8% this morning. Lululemon raised guidance for the full fiscal year. This is a nice boost for the raise in the guidance. I think it's safe to assume that they had a good holiday quarter.
Dan Kline: This shocks me. They had reported in early December, and the numbers were a little soft. This is a premium product. It's not really in line with who did well. Target, Walmart, those had good holiday seasons. If you walk into Target, there's a huge display of, they don't call it fake Lululemon, but Lalalarry or whatever their fake brand is. So this shows a real strength. The economy is pretty good, and they're willing to buy $70 yoga pants.
Hill: I was less surprised, but that's because I have young women in my house. In terms of what was on various Christmas wish lists and that sort of thing -- and there's a Lululemon right here in Old Town, and over break, there was an excursion, all that sort of thing. Are you at all surprised -- not necessarily just by this, because I know you're surprised by this. There was a stretch of time where the success of Lululemon was talked about first with praise, then followed by, "But I don't see how they keep this up. How big is the market for $100 yoga pants?" And the track record of Lululemon over the past 10 years is pretty impressive.
Kline: I think they've moved beyond the trendy -- remember Vineyard Vines, everybody had to have that shirt of the high school kids? They still have a little bit of that. They haven't fallen into the negative. Sometimes you get that backlash, where it becomes really not cool. That didn't happen, and that's because it's a quality product. I don't look like it, but I've done hundreds of yoga classes over the last few years. If someone is wearing cheap yoga pants, that's not great.
For the actual yoga market, Lululemon is a really good product. I'm sure there are less pricey -- maybe Target's, maybe Amazon's -- but you don't know. And if it's the difference between your yoga pants being see-through or not, you might spend the extra money. So, they've established that this brand is good, and I think that will transcend the up-and-down trendiness of the label.
Hill: And, they've also done a good job of expanding the offerings for men. When they initially talked about, "This is going to be a focus for us," I was one of those people saying, "Come on, really?" And it goes to what you said, they make quality stuff.
Kline: I laughed because as a man who does yoga, it's very challenging to figure out what wear. You can't really wear sweatpants. You'll see guys show up in slacks. Nobody knows what to do.
So to be able to buy a quality pant, where you're not wearing a woman's outfit, you're wearing something made for men, they've really figured it out. They're answering a question that maybe the rest of the market didn't believe was being asked, but every guy in a yoga studio was asking.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Chris Hill owns shares of Amazon. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Lululemon Athletica. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.