Since this is the time of year Santa Claus is making his list, and checking it twice, there's no better time to contemplate who's been naughty and nice in the world of business and investing, too.
Who should get a few lumps of coal in their stockings? When that question was posed to me, I couldn't help but recall an article I wrote last summer, about some retailers reducing the frequency of their same-store sales, or comps, reporting. So I've got to nominate that retail "trend" as a naughty turn in 2006 -- but keep reading because there's a naughty twist at the end, too.
This isn't exactly a new development. There are some retailers, like Urban Outfitters
Last summer, I couldn't help but consider the fact that some of the retailers opting for the "less-is-more" angle had their share of challenges. For example Bombay Co.
In October, I noted what I believed was a more shocking recent development along these lines -- Starbucks
Now comes the twist. Most of the retailers that have chosen this route have cited the volatility that can hit their stocks when monthly comps are reported. And it's absolutely true. That fateful Thursday every month often brings about drastic stock moves that strike some of us as absolutely nonsensical. (No wonder one Fool dubbed this behavior Wall Street's retail idiocy.)
And there's the crux of the situation -- while I don't condone the idea that "less is more" when it comes to timely, frequent information for investors, investors share some of the fault. Here at the Fool, the point has been made many times that one month's sales data does not make a good thesis for buying or selling a stock.
In July, I said, "As investors, we have our own responsibilities. Take monthly same-store sales fluctuations with a grain of salt. Resist the hype when you're trying to find true quality retailers with sustainable competitive advantages. Do your due diligence on free cash flow, profitability, debt, revenue, margins, and inventories. Remember that same-store sales are short term, not the be-all and end-all."
That's why, unfortunately, while I can say retailers that are ratcheting down the frequency of their same-store sales communications belong on my "naughty" list for 2006, I can't help but admit that some investors share the blame. After all, illogical share-price volatility gave the companies that have decided to go this route what seems like a perfectly logical excuse, and I can't say that in the long run, any of this is good for investors.
For related Foolishness, see the following articles from 2006:
- Retailers embarked on a dangerous trend.
- Wall Street's retail idiocy.
- Read up on comps with Foolish Fundamentals: Same-Store Sales.
There's a whole world of naughty and nice out there! Take a lookat the rest of the bunch.