Shares of Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) were among the big winners during earnings season this week. The seller of patented closed-cell resin antimicrobial footwear -- aka, the rubbery shoes with the holes -- saw its stock soar by 9% on Thursday following another excellent financial report.
Trouncing expectations on both ends of the income statement for the third quarter is always a good start. Crocs also boosted its guidance, which has become a quarterly rite for the ascending brand these days. And it was able to ease some of the supply chain concerns that have smacked other companies that reported financials earlier this month.
Is the Crocs run for real? Investors who attempt to chase profits in trending fashions can get scorched when influencers move on to a new style or pick a different retro icon to reinvigorate. But take a closer look at Crocs and you'll probably like what you see.
Revenue soared by 73% to hit $625.9 million in the third quarter. Analysts had only been looking for $610 million on the top line. Crocs' strongest gains came in the Americas with a 95% year-over-year surge in sales, but all geographical regions came through with double-digit percentage growth. In short, we're not just talking about footwear sales to stateside viewers who might have seen Questlove sporting golden Crocs at the Oscars ceremony in April, or Idris Elba and Pete Davidson wearing them in Belle Reve as imprisoned supervillains in The Suicide Squad this summer.
Some companies that have been posting jaw-dropping growth for 2021's summertime quarter are benefiting from a comparison to particularly depressed results from 2020, but Crocs was also rocking a year ago, when folks were clamoring for comfortable stay-at-home footwear. Its revenue has more than doubled from where it was two years ago for the same quarter.
The news gets even better on the bottom line. Operating income more than doubled and the operating margin expanded dramatically. Adjusted earnings per share of $2.47 were well ahead of both the $0.94 Crocs posted a year ago and the $1.88 that Wall Street pros were modeling.
With the pandemic recently hampering production at partner factories in Vietnam, investors were curious to see if we would have a Crocs shortage over the holidays or heading into 2022. However, the company seems to have it under control. Some of the factories cranking out Crocs in Vietnam did close for a few weeks during the third quarter, but they started ramping up production earlier this month. Crocs also was able to shift some production to other countries including China, Indonesia, and Bosnia during the interruption.
Crocs is also working around the shipping bottlenecks at this country's West Coast ports by leveraging airfreight, adding East Coast shipments, and prioritizing production to its top-selling styles. In short, it should be able to keep up with booming demand despite the challenging operating climate.
This will be the third consecutive year of double-digit percentage revenue growth at Crocs, and shareholders are the real beneficiaries. The stock has more than doubled this year, but it's also nearly a six-bagger since the start of 2019. Management conservatively sees sales growing by at least 20% in 2022, so we're looking ahead to a four-year streak of double-digit percentage top-line jumps.
It's important to frame guidance appropriately here. Back in February, Crocs was also projecting 20% to 25% revenue growth for 2021. Its latest revised outlook anticipates growth for this year in the 62% to 65% range. This was the fifth quarter in a row that it beats analysts' profit targets by at least 30%. Wall Street hasn't caught up to this story.
Can it all come undone? Sure. Fashion is fickle, even if Crocs offer a certain comfort factor that is hard to box into a fashionista checklist. However, the stock is still trading at a steep discount to its heady growth rate. Despite its strong run upward over the past three years, it's still valued at a reasonable 21 times earnings and only 17 times next year's analysts' estimated earnings.
Crocs' shoes may have holes, but there aren't too many holes in the buy thesis here. This has become an unlikely but brilliant growth stock. All bets are off on this comeback kid the moment that sales growth turns negative, but until then, these rubbery clogs were made for walking.