Here at The Motley Fool, we believe individual investors should have the same access to information as Wall Street. To that end, we've listened in on some analyst conferences with major companies, and we're giving you the rundown. We call this series "Fool on the Street."
At a recent analyst presentation, VF Corporation's
VF Corporation is an apparel manufacturer with $7 billion in sales, and the company owns the brands Nautica, Wrangler, The North Face, John Varvatos, and Jansport, among others. The lifestyle segment, which includes higher-end sportswear and outdoor apparel, accounts for 35% of VF sales and is expected to grow at a high-single-digit rate in 2007. The heritage segment, which includes jeanswear and intimates, accounts for 65% of sales and is expected to show flat to low single-digit growth. Overall, VF forecasts 6%-8% sales growth, half organic and half from acquisitions. Longer-term, the company wants to grow its more profitable lifestyle business to 60% of sales by 2009.
In the call, VF's management highlighted its main growth drivers. The company wants to continue to buy brands complementary to its existing portfolio, such as Eagle Creek, a manufacturer of outdoor travel gear. VF also wants to continue to be a leader in the consolidation game. By offering 800,000 different store-keeping units, the company can provide a broad array of apparel solutions to Wal-Mart
VF believes international markets harbor some of the company's greatest growth potential, with global sales increasing from 20% of sales five years ago to 25% now, and plans to bring that up to 30%. VF believes that its brands translate well geographically. For example, The North Face opened shop in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and John Varvatos, which has been selling extremely well in New York, has expanded to the West Coast.
VF's stock, up 44% over the past year, has been a standout performer in the somewhat lifeless apparel sector. The company has a longstanding reputation as a disciplined operator and acquirer, and it seems 2007 will be business as usual. Management identified $100 million in savings initiatives and 14% operating margins, which is an aggressive 140-basis-point improvement. Because I despise paying more than the next investor, I'm not too interested in VF's stock. However, the company only trades at 16 times trailing earnings, which is pretty cheap for a company of this caliber.
Further VF-related Foolishness:
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Fool contributor Emil Lee is an analyst and a disciple of value investing. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.