Despite the market's positive reaction to the government's recent stress tests, few banks these days inspire confidence in their stability. Even the best are distracted by increased scrutiny and worried customers.
Not so for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers
This Bank's business model isn't complicated. The company designs upscale, classic, high-quality men's clothing, and sells it at reasonable prices by maximizing cost and quality advantages.
Jos. A. Bank targets an attractive market segment: career professionals who are willing and able to spend more for higher-quality clothing. Indeed, the customers are coming back for more. Purchases by holders of the company's corporate card comprise a significant portion of sales, and comparable-store sales in 2008 were up 8.9% from the year before. Compare that to negative comps at Dillard's
Jos A. Bank is lending ...
... an ear to its core customers, and designing new products for the evolving businessman. Jos. A. Bank develops clothing lines that are wrinkle-resistant or that stay cool in humid weather, to offer businessmen new levels of comfort. The retailer commits to quality clothing and consistent fit by enforcing stringent specifications in product design, raw materials, and workmanship.
Its business model outlines low-risk principles for creating an advantage over competitors. Its commitment to classic, updated styles limits susceptibility to fashion fads. The company wins with customer service by greeting customers at the door, showing them around, and helping them find the right styles, materials, and fit -- an experience you have to seek yourself at competitors Macy's
Jos. A. Bank has a leg up on these competitors through the combination of high-quality service and lower or comparable prices. It keeps prices well below those at competitor Brooks Brothers. Jos. A. Bank has an advantage over Men's Wearhouse
A track record of performance
Over the past five years, Jos. A. Bank's revenue has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 18%; in that same time, it has increased its operating margin from 10% to nearly 14%. These efficiency gains will be useful in a tough economy.
It won't all be easy for Jos. A. Bank, though. The economic environment is pressing on all retailers of discretionary goods. Because Jos. A. Bank generates approximately 50% of its annual net income during the fourth quarter (i.e., the holiday season), the company will be challenged if the economy hasn't improved six months from now. Additionally, with more than 460 stores, finding attractive new locations is becoming more difficult. The company is already reducing its number of new stores planned for 2009, citing economic conditions and a lack of good sites.
Still, management has designed a great business with impressive results. In a tough retail environment, Jos. A. Bank is slowing its store growth, but it's staying true to its business model and its customers. In the long term, this company has room to run..
Jos. A. Bank has traditionally eliminated the middleman in order to gain a competitive pricing advantage. It may have more opportunity in this area, since it purchases only 9% of the raw materials for its products. The remainder is bought as finished products.
Also, the Internet offers significant undertapped potential. Along with the catalog ordering, Web patronage accounts for less than 9% of sales. Given their loyalty to the company, and its consistent fit and quality, customers are more willing to buy online. Already, 25% of direct marketing sales are actually for suits!
With solid growth rates in a tough economy, a reasonable valuation (including a P/E of 12), and a predictable business, Jos. A. Bank is one bank you can count on.
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