Shares of The Container Store (NYSE:TCS) got crushed after reporting poor first quarter earnings. Investors continue to be worried about weakened retail traffic and the low margins associated with The Container Store, which is why they should now turn to Tupperware Brands (NYSE:TUP), a strong competitor that has better international exposure and no exposure to retail sales.
The Container Stores sees retail weakness
The Container Store reported an 8.6% increase in overall first-quarter revenue to $173.4 million. Despite the high single-digit rise, the quarter was hit with many negative items, and the majority of the growth came from additional locations opening.
Same-store sales fell 0.8% in the first quarter. The Container Store blamed the weather, but it went further when the CEO stated that the company was "experiencing a retail funk." Total retail stores increase 9% to $149.7 million, but a gross margin of 58.1% was a decline from the prior year.
The company has a goal of increasing its total square footage by 12% annually. To that end the company opened three stores in the first quarter and has plans to open four additional stores in the fiscal year. Currently, The Container Store has 66 stores in 24 states and Washington, D.C.
For the full year, The Container Store projected same-stores sales growth of 1.5% to 2.5%. This is forecasted with no growth in the second and third quarters, and increased traffic in the fourth quarter. With malls already experiencing fewer shoppers during the holiday season, The Container Store's goals might have be too ambitious.
Tupperware strong around the world
The Container Store has a presence in only 24 states and has the potential to expand its reach across the entire nation. However, an investment with Tupperware is a bet on a growing middle class being captured by the strong international presence the company has.
In 2013, Tupperware got 31% of its sales from the Asia Pacific region and 29% from the Europe region. South America made up 14% of total revenue. The North American segment was split with the beauty (12%) and Tupperware (14%) segments. Emerging markets made up 65% of total revenue in 2013.
In 2013, regions like Brazil, China, Turkey, and Indonesia posted double digit gains. In the most recent first quarter, areas like Indonesia, China, and Mexico all posted double digit gains in sales. Overall, emerging market sales increased 14% for Tupperware.
Tupperware shares cheaper
When looking at common investing metrics, Tupperware shares look better for investors. On a price to sales basis, The Container Store actually has a better ratio. Container Store shares trade at 1.5 times this year's expected sales, compared to 1.6 for Tupperware.
However, when it comes to earnings per share, Tupperware is far ahead of The Container Store. Tupperware shares trade at 14.8 times this year's expected earnings per share and only 13.3 times next year's expected earnings per share. The Container Store, on the other hand, trades with a sky-high 48.8 times current expected earnings and 35.3 times next year's expected earnings. With the company's first-quarter miss, the price to earnings ratio might actually end up higher than 50.
Tupperware rewards shareholders with growing dividend
Tupperware shares also yield 3.3%, giving investors a strong reason to ditch The Container Store and stick to Tupperware. That strong dividend has grown in recent years to significantly improve the yield. From 1996 to 2009, Tupperware paid a quarterly dividend of $0.22. Back in 2012, Tupperware paid shareholders $0.36 quarterly. In 2013, the company nearly doubled its payout to $0.62 per quarter. Now, shareholders receive $0.68 on a quarterly basis.
Shares of The Container Store have fallen 32% since their IPO and are down 44% in 2014. The company is facing many headwinds and could see shares fall further. As investors see the high valuation of shares, many will likely exit. Tupperware shares are down 9% in 2014 after a stellar 2013 that saw shares increase 46%.
Tupperware has a sales force of 2.9 million people. A Tupperware party is hosted every 1.3 seconds somewhere in the world. The company has no advertising costs and no retail space to pay for, eliminating two large costs that will continue to pressure The Container Store. Stick with Tupperware on this one in the battle of storage containers.
Chris Katje has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends The Container Store Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of The Container Store Group and Tupperware Brands. 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.