Forget its increases in earnings and revenue for a second. Coach
Note to Coach: We Fools are smart enough to know how the spoonfed "analyst estimates" game works on Wall Street. We consider meeting and beating expectations to be, as Buffett reportedly described it, drawing a target on a wall when you've already placed the arrow. We know it happens. We think it's lame -- if not deceitful -- and we wish everyone would just let the chips fall where they may. Stop trying to write the headlines, folks.
Besides, judging by the stock's action yesterday, no one was buying it.
The real question here: Why would Coach feel the need to pump results that otherwise look so sleek?
I mean, we've got net sales up 30%, and earnings from continuing operations up 50% to $0.39 per share. The company was right to be proud of the 420-basis-point improvement in operating margins, despite its 60-basis-point drop in gross margins. Comparable-store sales growth was up 20% for the quarter.
So far, so good, right? Not necessarily. Keep reading the release, and you'll find an entire paragraph devoted to analyst estimates, which management parses in an attempt to show that the $1.67 per-share FY 2007 guidance actually exceeds its estimate of an "adjusted consensus estimate."
Now we have management estimating estimates? What kind of rabbit hole did Coach fall into? And why on Earth would the company spend time on this ridiculous and meaningless exercise when it couldn't take the time to include something every investor could use, like a statement of cash flows?
Coach has a great brand and seems to run a great business, but investor-relations gaffes like this make me wonder whether shareholders shouldn't be on guard. Insiders are dropping an awful lot of shares these days, and the stock is, as usual, priced to perfection. By my math, it needs to achieve many years of 25% annual growth in order to justify today's price. Does all that press-releasing and analyst-feeding betray nervousness from management?
I'd be nervous, too, if I sold a high-end product that might just go the way of the dodo, should the housing meltdown constrict consumption of luxury goods.
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