Margins matter. The more Stage Stores
Here's the current margin snapshot for Stage Stores over the trailing 12 months: Gross margin is 27.6%, while operating margin is 3.9% and net margin is 2.2%.
Unfortunately, a look at the most recent numbers doesn't tell us much about where Stage Stores has been, or where it's going. A company with rising gross and operating margins often fuels its growth by increasing demand for its products. If it sells more units while keeping costs in check, its profitability increases. Conversely, a company with gross margins that inch downward over time is often losing out to competition, and possibly engaging in a race to the bottom on prices. If it can't make up for this problem by cutting costs -- and most companies can't -- then both the business and its shares face a decidedly bleak outlook.
Of course, over the short term, the kind of economic shocks we recently experienced can drastically affect a company's profitability. That's why I like to look at five fiscal years' worth of margins, along with the results for the trailing 12 months, the last fiscal year, and last fiscal quarter (LFQ). You can't always reach a hard conclusion about your company's health, but you can better understand what to expect, and what to watch.
Here's the margin picture for Stage Stores over the past few years.
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Dollar amounts in millions. FY = fiscal year. TTM = trailing 12 months.
Because of seasonality in some businesses, the numbers for the last period on the right -- the TTM figures -- aren't always comparable to the FY results preceding them. To compare quarterly margins to their prior-year levels, consult this chart.
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Dollar amounts in millions. FQ = fiscal quarter.
Here's how the stats break down:
- Over the past five years, gross margin peaked at 28.8% and averaged 27.8%. Operating margin peaked at 5.8% and averaged 4.1%. Net margin peaked at 3.4% and averaged 1.1%.
- TTM gross margin is 27.6%, 20 basis points worse than the five-year average. TTM operating margin is 3.9%, 20 basis points worse than the five-year average. TTM net margin is 2.2%, 110 basis points better than the five-year average.
With recent TTM operating margins below historical averages, Stage Stores has some work to do.
Is Stage Stores the right retailer for your portfolio? Learn how to maximize your investment income and "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks," including one above-average retailing powerhouse. Click here for instant access to this free report.
- Add Stage Stores to My Watchlist.
Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor of Motley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
More from The Motley Fool
1 Key Stage Stores Stock Number You Must Know
Investors can gain insight into the struggling department store chain's future profits by keeping an eye on this key indicator.
3 Retail Dividends That Could Disappear
There are some juicy dividend stocks out on the market, but investors are best off avoiding these three.
The Biggest Problem With Stage Stores Inc. Stock
There are two major reasons the department store stock has plummeted.