If you ever wanted to go on a buying spree for some of the biggest names in clothing, now's the time to do it. Take a look at some of the apparel companies that reported earnings last week, and consider this your shopping list.
Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Kors, though. Fool analyst Austin Smith is hesitant about Kors because of its very high P/E of 54.9 (compared to the industry average of 21.2). It's an understandable position to take, considering that with such a high P/E, Kors is priced to perfection, and any slip up in earnings could be disastrous. But Kors hasn't made a mistake yet, which is why the stock is up 55% this year.
Abercrombie & Glitch
On the other side of the retail coin is Abercrombie & Fitch
In its Q2 report, Abercrombie reported $0.19 earnings per share, a year-over-year decrease of 46%. Even though this did beat analyst expectations of $0.17 per share, these were diminished expectations to begin with, so don't start jumping for joy.
On the brighter side, Abercrombie did increase its revenue 4% to $951.4 million... except this was still below already-low analyst estimates of $994 million. When you consider this, as well as the company's 10% drop in comparable store sales, I'd stay away from this one if I were you.
Don't let Abercrombie get you down -- there's still hope yet for retail. One of the brightest up-and-comers in the sector is Ross Stores
This week's earnings report only added gasoline to Ross' meteoric growth; the company earned $0.81 per share, up from $0.64 in Q2 last year, a 27% increase. Meanwhile, comparable store sales rose 7% year over year, and net earnings grew 23% to $182 million.
A stock like Ross, up 51% in the last 12 months, might make some investors suspicious that it can't sustain its growth. However, Ross announced earlier this week that it would keep distributing its quarterly dividend of $0.14 per share, a dividend that was increased from $0.11 at the beginning of this year.
The consistent dividends, coupled with an operating margin at a new high of 12.8%, are signs that Ross intends to keep up the good work, and investors should take note.
Keeping the good retail times rolling, Gap
In its second quarter, Gap increased sales 6% year over year to $3.58 billion, with comparable store sales growing 4%. These bumps in sales were due to the company's focus on the U.S. market, which has been a safe haven from the stormy international markets.
All of this retail goodness led to Gap increasing earnings per share 40% to $0.49, which beat analyst expectations by $0.01. Speaking of EPS, the company raised its full year guidance to $1.95-$2.00, up from the previously expected $1.78-$1.83.
It looks like Gap is firing on all cylinders right now, and this report only makes it obvious why the company is one of the three best stocks to buy in 2012.
Foot Locker locking up profits
Last but certainly not least, Foot Locker
Foot Locker shares are up 85% this year, and between the company's same-store sales growing 9.8% while decreasing inventory 3%, it looks like that strong growth is pretty sustainable.
Looking back over your shopping list, it's pretty clear that the retail sector is doing just fine. Sure there are some companies like Abercrombie that are dropping the ball, but for every one of those, there are four other great stocks just waiting for you to buy them. We love great stocks like these, which is why we've created The Motley Fool's Top Stocks for 2012 to keep track of our favorite companies. Sign up for your copy here.