Warren Buffett has famously said that he likes to buy high quality merchandise -- but only when it is being offered at a discount price. Due to broad market sell-off in the first half of 2022, investors now have the opportunity to act like Buffett and purchase shares in a wide variety of high quality companies selling at marked-down prices.
Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. (FND -0.96%) is a fast-growing specialty retailer selling a broad range of tile, stone, wood, and laminate flooring products. The company caters to both do-it-yourself (DIY) customers and professional flooring installers.
Currently trading roughly 45% below its November 2021 high, Floor & Decor is just the kind of opportunity Buffett is talking about.
Investor uncertainty creates opportunity
Floor & Decor shares have been nearly halved due, in large part, to investor concerns about inflation, an economic slowdown and their potential effects on consumer spending. In addition, investors have been worried that slow housing turnover could affect the company's sales since management has described existing-home sales growth as one of the drivers of flooring market demand.
While these are legitimate concerns, palpable investor uncertainty could be creating an attractive profit opportunity for investors with long term time horizons.
Is Wall Street undervaluing the company's competitive advantage?
Floor & Decor operates a network of warehouse-format stores which average 78,000 square feet and typically carry 4,200 stock keeping units (SKUs), offering a far greater in-store product selection than any other flooring products retailer. Management believes its extensive variety of value-priced flooring products provides the company with a competitive advantage that is both meaningful and sustainable -- and this advantage can be seen clearly in the company's sales growth trends.
Over the past several years, Floor & Decor has grown sales at rates far outpacing the industry average. While the industry increased at a 4% average annual rate from 2016 to 2021, the company grew revenues at a 22% annual rate over the same period. The company achieved particularly notable sales outperformance in 2020, when it grew sales by 19% amid a 2% flooring market sales contraction. Additionally, management believes the company increased its industry market share from 6% in 2020 to 8% in 2021.
Floor & Decor has achieved this robust sales growth via a combination of new store openings and same store sales. The company nearly doubled its store count in the five year period ending December 31, 2021, and the company operated 166 stores across 33 states as of March 31, 2022. Management believes it will continue gaining market share in the estimated $30 billion US retail flooring market, and it sees an extended runway for future growth with the potential to be operating 500 total stores over the long term.
In addition to expanding its store network, Floor & Decor is establishing a solid track record of comparable store sales growth. Same unit sales increased 8% per year on average from 2017 to 2021. Same store sales surged in 2021, up 28% from lockdown-constrained 2020. While this leap in sales will make comparable store sales gains difficult to achieve in 2022, management has shown the operating expertise to increase sales throughout a wide range of economic conditions.
Continued growth expected
Floor & Decor is not waiting around for a rebound in consumer spending or housing transactions. The company plans to open 32 new warehouse format stores in 2022. Management believes that increasing scale widens the company's competitive moat, as customers are increasingly drawn to the Floor & Decor's industry-leading product selection, pricing, and knowledgeable customer service associates. The company has historically achieved a return on their new store investments within 2.5 to 3 years, and management expects to see returns on investment twice their cost of capital, even if business decelerates in the short term.
Warren Buffett has been accumulating Floor & Decor shares
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (BRK.A -0.58%) (BRK.B -0.46%) started buying Floor & Decor shares in the third quarter of 2021, and as of March 30, 2022, Berkshire had amassed a position of 4.8 million shares. Some Wall Street analysts are waiting for consumer spending and housing demand to improve before raising their price targets for Floor & Decor, but the stock will likely trade at much higher levels by the time the investment community gets such confirmation. Warren Buffett did not wait for Wall Street to become more optimistic to buy the stock. Investors with long term time horizons might want to mimic Buffett's actions and pick up Floor & Decor shares before the half-off sale ends