I've learned two things.
One: Come Halloween, I'm going to go trick-or-treating at Seth's house. If he's handing out stock picks, I want some.
Two: If Seth's wife's students thought that Abercrombie & Fitch
That's the way it is in specialty retail. Nothing hot lasts forever. Seth makes some tantalizing claims about the company's returns and improving margins, but that's the mistake of approaching a cyclical company as if it were a growth stock. Abercrombie & Fitch will perpetually fall in and out of favor. In fact, I should point out that ROA and ROE are flawed gauges here, because A&F's asset base and book value both fell last year. In other words, the denominators shrank. Shareholder equity alone fell by 22% last year.
Remember 1999, when one-hit boy band LFO had that dreadfully infectious "Summer Girls" song that went, "I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch"? By next summer, the stock had shed roughly 75% of its value.
Oh, those fickle teens. Yesterday's Hot Topic
Does anyone really know anything about Mr. Abercrombie or Mr. Fitch? I do. One was a trapper. The other was a lawyer. In a sense, they both hunted for a living. That's the spirit of A&F right there. Tease the inner rebel with articles on binge drinking and photos of nude models and see them fall right into your trap. It works. Then it doesn't. Then it works again. Then ... you get the picture.
A&F even went bankrupt once. Sure, the store had a different format in 1977, but it doesn't diminish the truth: Specialty retail is too risky to overpay for any company. Wet Seal
I've got a Members Only jacket and a pair of Sassoon jeans in storage somewhere that says A&F's recent fancy will fade away, too. Own it, and your portfolio may become as skimpy as some of A&F's magalog eye candy.
You're not done. This is just one part of a four-part Duel! Don't miss Rick's bearish opening argument, Seth Jayson's bullish stance on A&F, or Seth's final word. When you're done, you're still not done. You can vote and let us know who you think won this Duel.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks hitting up Seth for some candy come October can be a good thing. He does not own any of the shares mentioned in this argument. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.