All right, guys, tell me if you've had this experience.
You're in the mall and there's one store your wife or girlfriend absolutely loves but that bores you to tears, like Urban Outfitters'
That pretty much describes any trip to the mall in the last year or so when I know a visit to a J. Crew
As I look at J. Crew's second-quarter results, I begrudgingly have to hand it to the company. I don't believe it brings much of anything special to the table, but going public has certainly helped the company clean up its balance sheet. And with debt down and preferred dividends no longer needing to be paid, the company's financing costs are down, and barring a decline in sales, the company should see a boost in net income because of it. That's not to say that equity capital is cheap, but removing interest expense can allow a company to show a rapid rise on the income statement.
Things look good, but all is not peachy at J. Crew. As our Fool by Numbers shows, the company's inventory growth was a bit above sales and the company gross margins declined slightly. Neither moved by large enough amounts to be troubling, but it is a sign of the company discounting to move inventory. On the company's conference call, the declines were attributed to a return to normal, as merchandising results were above normal last year. Regardless, the declines aren't as large as what has been seen at some retailers such as Gap
Looking at the quarter in detail, there's a one-time charge for early retirement of debt that totaled just over $10 million. Without incurring that charge, but with regular interest expense, it appears the company easily would have surpassed its results last year, and going forward, the company will have significantly less interest expense.
As much as I'm not a fan of shopping at J. Crew's stores, it's hard to deny that the company is having success with a large number of shoppers or the fact that the company has used its IPO proceeds to clean up its balance sheet and materially reduce its interest expense. Considering the reduction in interest expense and preferred stock dividends, I think it's time for investors to take a look and see how the newly freed-up cash from reduced expenses will be used. There's potential that this company will see not only a material increase in earnings in the near future, but also an increase in free cash flow as well.
At the time of publication Nathan Parmelee had no interest in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy . Gap is both a Motley Fool Inside Value and Stock Advisor selection.