Turns out retail may not be such a bad play after all: August’s retail same-store sales numbers this week weren’t all that awful. Still, the “bookend” effect remains the latest trend; consumers are indulging at the low and high ends of the price scales, while retailers in the middle are left out in the cold.
Following this trend, we looked at discount restaurants, consumer-goods companies, and retailers with good long-term investment prospects last week to try and find those that can capitalize on the spending pullback. Of course, despite the weak economy, some of us will beg, borrow, and go into high levels of debt to have the best of everything. Folks are still dishing out grand sums of money for trendy Fendi bags and Golden Opulence Sundaes at $1,000 a pop. So this week, I’m going to unveil three high-end consumer-focused companies selling at marked-down prices.
A little sizzle for your portfolio?
Ruth’s Hospitality Group
While the Mitchell’s Fish Market acquisition helped boost sales in the second quarter by 37.9%, company-owned Ruth’s Chris establishments saw same-store sales drop 7.1%. Handing out a lofty severance package to the former CEO didn’t help the bottom line, which dropped 50% year over year.
Yes, Ruth’s is undergoing a lot of change right now, adding a new CEO and integrating new chains in a challenging restaurant market (for an example, look at Darden Restaurants’
Specialty shopping in vogue?
Nordstrom got my attention again when I was reading Vogue magazine’s profile on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The self-proclaimed hockey mom takes her daughters shopping at Nordstrom in Anchorage. Again, this raises the question of what luxury shopping is (and whether it’s really becoming a mass-consumer sort of thing).
Granted, Nordstrom has seen better days. Its same-store sales dipped 6%, and net earnings slid 8.5% in its most recent quarter. The sluggish performance resulting from the weakened economy has brought the company’s trailing P/E down to less than 12, half its historical average of 22. Nordstrom may not be the next highflying growth company, but it’s a steady grower and has delivered great value to investors in the past with generous buyback programs and dividend increases. More importantly, it holds a powerful, lasting brand name that will position it well when consumer spending strengthens.
Bagging a winner?
I haven’t been able to keep my eye off of Coach
Coach may have offered cautious earnings guidance for the coming year, but the company has delivered in the past; it sports 27.3% annualized five-year sales growth rates. More impressively, it’s maintained a net margin of nearly 25%. Coach has typically used its resources well, with no debt and an ROI of 42%. Rival Fossil
The market for luxury goods may not have hit a bottom. But as these goods become more accessible to the masses -- through the Internet, bricks-and-mortar stores, and expansion -- these bargain-basement stock prices may be exactly what your portfolio needs for a sparkling investing future.
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