Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of Lands' End (NASDAQ:LE) lost as much as 25% of their value, before settling down 17%, after the retailer warned of a drop in fourth-quarter sales year-over-year.
So what: Lands' End has been an independently traded company for less than a year after being spun off from hedge fund Eddie Lampert's flailing Sears Holdings (OTC:SHLDQ) last March. The separation has not been good for Lands' End, which derived so much of its retail business from its outlets in Sears stores that the shuttering of some of these locations was partly to blame for an abysmal 16% to 18% decline in bricks-and-mortar sales. Other targets of blame for this plunge were weak redemption rates from the company's rewards program, in addition to the overall decline in same-store sales. All of these issues were generally pinned on agreements between Lands' End and its former corporate parent following last year's spinoff.
In strict numeric terms, Lands' End expects fourth-quarter revenue to range from $505 million to $515 million, which is 3% to 5% below last year's fourth-quarter results and well beneath the $542.2 million in sales Wall Street had expected. Same-store sales will likely decline by 7% to 9%, and net income will fall by 20% to 26%, resulting in $1.06 to $1.16 in earnings per share. This bottom-line result falls well short of both last year's $1.44 in EPS and Wall Street's modest expectations of $1.38 in EPS for the quarter.
Now what: Lampert has been the anti-Midas at Sears since taking control of the storied brand years ago. While both Sears and Lands' End's shares have gained over the past year, Sears' performance has been so abysmal during the post-crisis recovery that it seems unlikely to expect Lands' End to break the Lampert retail curse and thrive over the long run. Culture also matters when it comes to corporate success, and Lampert's companies have shown little to cheer for on this front, based on the numerous negative write-ups of Sears to appear in the news over the past few years. Between this lousy report and the known issues of Lampert's crumbling retail empire, it seems smarter to simply look elsewhere for a solid retail stock.