Levi Strauss (LEVI 3.45%), the maker and seller of iconic apparel products, is a name many people recognize. However, last year was tough for the company's business, with the pandemic forcing limited retailer operations.
But strong companies persevere through difficult times. Founded in 1853, Levi Strauss has a good track record. While that's encouraging, investors want to know how the denim company is situated for the future.
Although the company has been around a long time, its brands, including a couple under the Levi's name and Dockers products, remain relevant. Many people associate the company with men's jeans and casual work pants, which accounts for more than 70% of its revenue.
Not content to sit still, management is pushing its core products while also expanding its other apparel business, such as tops, and these now represent more than 20% of its annual revenue, up from 11% in 2015. The category is growing fast, at a 25% annual rate heading into 2020.
Additionally, Levi's is trying to reach beyond its traditional male customer by appealing to women. Revamping its jeans products and diversifying into different areas, that business has been growing at nearly a 20% yearly clip. Women's products accounted for 37% of its third-quarter revenue compared to 20% of 2015's top line, and management expects this segment to account for half of Levi's revenue in the future.
Feeling the impact of COVID-19, Levi Strauss' fiscal third-quarter revenue, which covered the period that ended on Aug. 23, dropped by 27% compared to a year ago. But e-commerce revenue growth was up 52%. Digital sales were nearly a quarter of the company's top line.
An increasing omnichannel presence puts Levi Strauss in a good position as people return to a "new normal" and have the option of going to physical stores or shopping online.
In 2020, Levi Strauss declared an $0.08 dividend in the first and second quarters but decided not to pay one in the next two quarters.
Obviously, I would prefer if the company saw fit to continue making the payments, but these are unusual circumstances. Levi Strauss said it would reevaluate the situation as things evolve. Its previously stated goal was to grow dividends in line with earnings, so I would expect the company to resume payments once results stabilize. In fact, management stated that it anticipated doing so this year, providing business trends keep moving in the right direction.
Fortunately, it seems likely that you will start receiving payments soon. When combined with Levi Strauss' well-regarded, iconic products that never go out of style, the company looks like a good addition to your portfolio, particularly as governments and companies distribute coronavirus vaccines. This purchase is likely to require patience as you wait for improved results, but good things take time.