Like the lion-fodder of Africa, stocks often move in herds, as professional investors decide: "Oh, I need to own semiconductors" or "Ick, I don't like steel anymore." Often as not, this comes as a result of the bleating of Wall Street analyst-sheep who all want to be the first to make a call, but all fear straying too far from the herd and seeing themselves culled away from their Mercedes by being too early (i.e., wrong).
Herd mentality may help explain why Bed Bath & Beyond
No matter, because Bed Bath & Beyond continues to produce good performance. Sales in the company's second quarter rose 12%, helped along by a 4.5% increase in same-store sales. Just as important, the company didn't need to slash prices to move merchandise, and the gross margin improved slightly, as did the operating margin. At the bottom line, earnings rose about 18% for the period.
As I said just two paragraphs ago, I think this company might have a legitimate claim to being among the best retailers going. It is far and away superior in terms of return on assets to any retailer its size, and its operating margins are well ahead of even solid performers like Williams-Sonoma
But performance is only part of the story; the price has to be right, as well. Although I don't find the company to be a screaming bargain today, it's not too far from from reaching a good buy-in point. And, of course, let's not forget the notion that quality rarely sells dirt-cheap, so the stock could still be a good buy today for more long-term oriented investors.
I don't really know what will happen with retailing stocks in general, though I suspect this rough patch for once-hot apparel companies could last a little while. In any case, people will still need towels, linens, cookware, and the other bits and baubles that go into a home. With that in mind, and good management in place, I can't help but like where Bed Bath & Beyond sits.
For more homey takes:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).