As I began poring over the latest reports from Claire's Stores
Of course, it is possible to screw up even with this booming demographic, but Claire's, and the post-tweener Icing by Claire's stores, don't look to be in much danger of dropping the ball since it's turning in amazing numbers. First-quarter earnings topped out at $0.28 per share, a 75% bump over last year's, and U.S. sales climbed impressively.
Revenues were up 17% over the same period last year to $282 million. Overall, comps growth was 11%, a decent showing compared to many other retailers last quarter. Comps at the Icing store were up more than 20%, but once again, Europe was the anchor.
Dave Marino-Nachison has reminded us -- here and here -- that European comps have been lagging the increases in the U.S. lately. For this quarter, the figure was actually negative single digits. (That's as specific as the press release gets.) While I don't expect those kids across the pond to outspend our homegrown teenagers -- U-S-A! U-S-A! -- it would be nice to see a better trend in Europe.
Still, I'm not complaining much because the firm is thriving. Gross margin increased 3.4%. Selling, general, and administrative expenses were down 1%. There's no long-term debt and $218 million in cash. Did I mention a regular quarterly dividend of $0.07 per share? Sure, there's a caste system for shares, but with a simple business, a leading position, and a history of hefty return on equity, this looks a lot like a stock for the lazy investor.
With a P/E ratio around 16, it's not exactly at the cheap end of its historical range, but with updated guidance for 16% earnings growth, Claire's looks reasonable, especially if it can manage a turnaround in Europe.
Hey Mom, does your tweener think you're a Fool? Discuss it on our Mothers and Daughters board.