It's certainly not time to don any black garb for a mournful gothic look for Hot Topic
Hot Topic's first-quarter net income increased 22% to $5.4 million, or $0.11 per share. Net sales increased 27%, while same-store sales managed a 4% increase. (Of course, we at the Fool would have liked to have seen a cash-flow statement with its press announcement.) As the days grew longer, same-store sales inched down: February's were 7.6%, March's were 3.9%, and April's were 0.7%, according to the company's conference call, courtesy of CCBN StreetEvents.
An average increase in the number of transactions sounds like a good sign, but gross margins inched down to 34.6% of sales, as compared to 35.4%. Part of the reason for that was a higher markdown rate in women's items and accessories, while men's goods were an easier sell. Apparently Hot Topic needs to get those punk rock girls back on board.
Anyone who's been following spring trends knows that in mainstream fashion, pink's the new black (as much as I personally hate to admit to such a thing). "Current color and print trends are not appropriate for Hot Topic," management said, with the added caveat that it's "not just black anymore." Say it isn't so! The company said it's been working to add some color and print detailing to its black garb, though -- anything more than detailing would deviate from what Hot Topic's all about.
Music is Hot Topic's forte, and one interesting aspect of the company's call had to do with kids' increasing interest in "classic rock" merchandise, related to bands many of their parents and grandparents listened to, like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Marley.
Who threatens this innovative retailer? Another company that appeals to a similar demographic is Urban Outfitters
Hot Topic shares were recently 5% higher and growing, showing investors liked what they heard (or maybe they just liked the upgrade issued today by A.G. Edwards; who knows?). Given the recent hike in price, the stock trades at 18 times forward earnings, which seems a little pricey, although it's hard to ignore the company's successful years.
However, if you believe in the power of the company's niche marketing -- as well as the increasing expansion of the also incredibly innovative and prescient Torrid chain -- it might be a stock to look into, if you're feeling like a rebel.
Let me guess. You don't wear a lot of black, have body piercings, or listen to bands called Fear Factory. Never fear: It's a good bet you can find plenty of other people to chat with on the Fools' What to Wear? board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Black clothing was befitting her teenage goth days, but she still finds that black goes with everything.