In this jumpy market, what's worse: issuing disappointing guidance or issuing none at all? It's not an easy choice -- just take a look at what happened to some recent, high-profile spankees such as Marvel Enterprises
Today, women's apparel retailer J. Jill Group
Comps were up 18% over last year's quarter, with net sales increasing 24% to $121 million. That revenue increase was better than this year's decent first quarter, which fueled a surprise profit a few months back. This quarter's bottom line shows $0.32 per share.
While management's grim and needlessly stilted refusal to "affirm or disavow any future financial targets" is getting the blame for the market's reaction, investors might also want to ask themselves this question. How did Jill turn a 24% sales increase into a measly 6.7% uptick in earnings per share?
Hmmm. Gross margins were up 1.5%, so that's not the problem. Aha! SG&A ballooned nearly $10 million, or 3% as a percentage of total revenues. That's a troubling drain on the bottom line and something investors need to watch. Jill has been laboring under lower operating margins than competitors such as Chico's FAS
Considering Jill's history of knock-kneed performance and none-too-cheap P/E of 40 -- higher than stellar Chico's -- investors should choose their fashion stocks with at least as much care as they choose their togs.
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