November was a strange month for me as a sports fan. My hometown Miami Dolphins were unbeatable for the month after starting the season as one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Miami Heat that came out blazing when the NBA season started is showing signs of sputtering. Oh, and I also bought a piece of a sporting goods chain.
I hadn't really taken a look at Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) until a couple of weeks ago when I approached it with initial skepticism. I was eyeing upcoming earnings reports, scouting for candidates in my weekly "3 Stocks to Avoid" column. I figured that Dick's Sports Goods would be a lock. A superstore concept selling sporting gear in 2021? Game over.
The more I saw, though, the more I liked. Dick's Sporting Goods is reinventing the bricks-and-mortar sporting goods retailing game. It's a compelling growth stock with a value stock price tag. Put me in, coach!
Dick's Sporting Goods packs most of the traits I like to see in an investment. It's a leader in a growing movement. We spent most of the pandemic in a sedentary state. We were streaming TV, playing video games, and videoconferencing through virtual classes or work meetings. It was the break we needed, but now it's time to get active again. Dick's Sporting Goods is an outfitter that makes it happen.
Sure, there are online retailers that can help you lace up on the cheap or find a 7% discount on lacrosse gear, but when it comes to the hands-on experience of playing sports you're going to be more comfortable with and even appreciative of the hands-on shopping experience where help and advice is just a nearby employee away.
You probably know a couple of sporting goods chains that have gone away over the years, but here is where Dick's Sporting Goods is more than just a survivor. In 2017 it shifted to make its stores more appealing and experiential. It also invested in tech improvements including data science so it's better positioned to meet demand at the local level. Its selling culture and approach to customer service also got updated. The stock is a five-bagger in the past four years, so obviously it's clicking.
A lot of retailers retreated through the pandemic last year, but Dick's Sporting Goods came through with nearly 10% growth in net sales. Business is booming this fiscal year with the top line up 38% for the 39 weeks through the end of October.
Scroll through the past few quarterly reports and you see a steady regimen of "beat-and-raise" performances. On that front, Wall Street's not aiming high enough here. Check out where the bottom line has landed relative to analyst expectations over the past year.
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This year in particular has been a wake-up call for Wall Street pros, but they keep tapping the snooze button. You would expect to pay up for this kind of market-thumping growth, but that's not the case here either. Its latest raised guidance calls for an adjusted profit per share of $14.60 to $14.80, or just eight times earnings.
It's also returning money to its shareholders through stock buybacks and quarterly distributions. The current yield of 1.5% may not seem like much, but the payouts have moved higher for seven consecutive years. It also paid out an additional one-time dividend in September.
Dick's Sporting Goods is a pandemic-tested winner posting double-digit sales growth with a single-digit earnings multiple. It's the class act among sporting goods stocks, and it clearly knows how to play the market game. I thought I had a good price when I bought in after its latest earnings report, and now I can add to my position at an even lower sticker price. Quality is on sale. I'm looking to add to my position in December.