In a summer that has seen retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch
The company's main division, Marmaxx, which is the combination of TJ Maxx and Marshalls, continues to perform well, but its growth is slowing: The group's total growth this quarter was 4% -- on 2% gains in same-store sales. The company's TK Maxx concept in the U.K. and its Canadian stores, Winners and HomeSense, are also holding their own overall.
The disappointment comes in the company's smaller but faster-growing concepts -- A.J. Wright and Bob's Stores. While Bob's Stores is quite small and still relatively new to the company, its more conventional retail format is also a departure from what the company does best, which is off-price retailing. A.J. Wright, on the other hand, is right up the company's alley. It should eventually begin to thrive as the operational aspects of the Marmaxx group, such as excellent inventory management, take hold.
On the whole, TJX's second-quarter results were fair, with sales up 7% and diluted earnings per share up 9% over last year to $0.25. The company's balance sheet also remains solid, but a change in when the company recognizes ownership of inventory on its balance sheet does make year-over-year comparisons difficult.
Where TJX has historically shined is in its working capital management and its ability to generate ample amounts of free cash flow from its TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores. This free cash flow has funded the expansion of the other store concepts, as well as an increasing dividend and share repurchases.
On the bright side, shares of TJX were priced reasonably going into the quarter's earnings release and remain so now. The company is paying a decent dividend and regularly repurchasing its shares in the open market. Investors who expect to see signs of material improvement in the company's non-Marmaxx businesses are not out of line, but it looks like they'll have to wait a little bit longer.
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