It's been suggested that Limited Brands
In the fourth quarter, the apparel retailer posted 3% revenue growth and comparable same-store sales growth of 2%. Its net income performed only marginally better -- a 7.4% increase. Fortunately, its earnings-per-share figure was more dignified, gracing the catwalk with a 28% improvement to $0.95 per share.
That robust EPS brought the company's fiscal 2004 adjusted earnings to $1.40 per share -- 26% year-over-year growth. The acceleration is due in part to the company's 8.4% improvement in operating margins, taking the figure to 11.6%, compared with 10.7% a year ago. Another significant factor is a 9% decrease in outstanding shares to 478.6 million. Revenue growth, on the other hand, offered little assistance, as Limited's full-year sales stumbled higher by just 5.3% to $9.4 billion.
Limited's board of directors has approved a $100 million buyback program for the upcoming fiscal year, so investors should expect additional share repurchases in 2005. It's a good thing, since the company's projected negative comparable sales will do little to fuel earnings growth.
Combine stagnating sales with 13%-15% anticipated earnings growth, and this stock becomes a pricey proposition as long as it's trading at 15 times expected earnings.
Limited is a well-run enterprise with an excellent lineup that includes such uniquely positioned entities as Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. Unfortunately, its richly valued stock has nowhere near the sex appeal or the fresh fragrance scent of its product lines to attract my investment dollars.
Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.