These are the days that make Varsity Group
Then again, it's not as though this quarter even matters. As Rich Smith pointed out just last week, selling school textbooks is a seasonal business, and 85% of the company's revenue is earned in the third quarter. The rest of the year is a nine-month lull, and the company can't help posting a loss given its fixed overhead.
However, while Rich is generally upbeat about this company, I am less than impressed. Perhaps it's because my 11-year-old son just started at one of the 300 private schools that is contracted exclusively with Varsity. My son and many of his classmates kicked off the sixth grade without all of their books, thanks to a back-order issue at Varsity.Making matters even worse is that I was able to find the out-of-stock-book at Amazon.com
However, my wife has sworn off textbook-retrieval duty after dealing with other order snafus at Varsity. We're talking a duplicate shipment here, a misplaced order there. But she isn't just a dissatisfied customer. She also teaches at a different school also contracted to Varsity. Despite her Varsity woes, she understands why her administration turned to the company. The procurement process is an inventory-free snap, even if it comes at the expense of parents often overpaying for the books.
So I'll reserve judgment on the stock until the third-quarter results roll around in three months. That's going to be important because Varsity is no longer just about books. In late May, the company closed on its acquisition of uniform provider Campus Outfitters. Uniforms have fatter gross margins than books, so I'm really curious as to how the current quarter shapes up, allowing for some less-than-stellar cost controls during the transitory process.
Even though I think Web-savvy students and parents will soon learn to bypass VarsityBooks.com if the same books can be had for less elsewhere, the uniform business is key. You just can't get blazers embroidered with the school crest at Target
If Varsity comes through on the uniform side, I may be willing overlook its textbook shortcomings. See, Rich? I, too, can learn to grade on a curve.
Amazon is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendation.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz misses the simple charm of the impulse purchases that used to be made in school-staffed bookstores. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has adisclosure policy.