What happened

Shares of Ralph Lauren (RL 1.66%) were up modestly on Tuesday amid a broad-based rally sparked by signs that Congress is close to agreement on a massive stimulus deal.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT, Ralph Lauren's shares were up about 6.2% from Monday's closing price.

So what

On a day when many retailers' shares are soaring, Ralph Lauren's are merely up a bit, relatively speaking. The market is clearly cooler on the Polo giant's prospects in the coming months -- possibly because the company was early to raise concerns about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on its business, and possibly because it has yet to address its balance sheet.

A Ralph Lauren sign on the outside of a store in Paris

Image source: Ralph Lauren.

Ralph Lauren warned in February that it was already taking a hit from store closings and supply disruptions as the virus pandemic peaked in China. Since then, the company has closed its brick-and-mortar stores in North America (over 200 locations), dealt with similar closings by (and cuts in orders from) key department-store customers such as Nordstrom, and implemented extra precautions at its online fulfillment centers in an effort to keep workers safe -- all while managing ongoing supply chain disruptions in Asia.

Now what

The question now is, does the company have enough cash to sustain operations through the pandemic and through the recession that might follow?

It's a question the company has yet to fully address. The best answer we have right now is that Ralph Lauren had $1.9 billion in cash as of December 31, the date of its most recent report. 

If Ralph Lauren wants to boost investors' confidence, announcing some moves to bolster its balance sheet (such as suspending its share repurchases, drawing down credit lines, or suspending the dividend) would probably help.