Nothing succeeds like excess, especially on Wall Street. Today, Mr. Market bid up shares of American Eagle Outfitters
The reason for the party? Another month of stellar sales growth. August sales were up 16% overall, with a strong 11% increase in same-store sales. That comes to well over a quarter of a billion bucks worth of clothes sold for the beginning month of the back-to-school season. To put American Eagle's sales in perspective, the $277 million for August has it nipping at the heels of teen-casual leader Abercrombie & Fitch
As I've said, maybe a bit too often lately, American Eagle's brand seems to have ascended into the same league as Abercrombie, even though many of us would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the clothes being hawked by the two. The retail biz is funny that way. A smart team can find opportunity even in a crowded field dominated by an iconic, established competitor.
But then again, Home Depot
American Eagle is stretching its wings and settling into the lifestyle clothing space, looking, to me, like Gap
And as sales go up, leverage pumps out the profits. On the last conference call, management indicated that a high single-digit comparable sales number would leverage SG&A costs. That's why management lifted the coming quarter's guidance from the previous $0.53-ish range to something around $0.57 per share. And it thinks it can leverage costs at an even lower comp in the fourth quarter. So, if sales continue at this clip, we will likely see more upside potential in the bottom line.
As I mentioned in a recent article on back-to-school stocks, with new growth opportunities -- including undies and a new Martin + Osa concept for us old geezers -- American Eagle looks like it's got a decent stretch of open field to run. And with consumer spending rising despite the drop in consumer confidence, this shareholder is content to stay in the nest and see what happens.
American Eagle is up 16% (compared to the market's 0.8%) since it became a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation back in June. To take a look at other market-beating ideas from the Fool's co-founders, the brothers Gardner, a free trial is just a click away.
At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had shares of Home Depot and American Eagle, but no positions in any other firm mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Home Depot and Gap are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Fool rules are here.