Men's clothier JoS. A. Bank
At first glance, it's difficult to see why the company's shares were down. The income statement numbers looked good, with revenue growing, profit margins widening, and net income growing by more than 50% year over year. Same-store and catalog/Internet sales for Q3 and the first nine months of the year both showed solid improvements.
But the company's 12-month chart is a dead giveaway. The stock began its descent in mid-October, when a critical article in Barron's caused the market to cast a critical eye at news -- even seemingly good news -- coming from the company. (A CBS MarketWatch article summarizing the Barron's piece is available in our archive.) Backed in part by commentary from short-sellers, the article raised questions about valuation, the manner in which same-store sales growth is tracked, rising inventory and payables, cash burn, and executive stock sales.
Investors appear to be taking the bearish side in recent weeks despite the company's trumpeting of increased ownership by a number of its officers and directors in a flurry of press releases. That's perhaps understandable: According to JoS. A. Bank's latest annual report, the average exercise price for the options outstanding as of February was well below the shares' market value in October. It's not likely that those folks were buying at today's prices.
I'd argue that insider buying and selling is generally a relatively minor issue, at least inasmuch as options-based compensation is an accepted cost of doing business these days. (That's not to say options expensing isn't still a worthy topic, as Bill Mann discussed in an August commentary.)
But the other issues still loom large. According to Multex data provided by Yahoo! Finance, short-sellers have taken on a larger position in the company's float in recent weeks. Unfortunately for bullish JoS. A. Bank investors who've seen a nice run-up turn sour in recent weeks, it appears that even "Street-beating" earnings aren't enough to turn the tide at the moment.
Have your own theory about JoS. A. Bank's recent sell-off? Say your piece on the JoS. A. Bank discussion board.
Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.