Perfumes and cosmetics company Inter Parfums
But management threw a slight curveball last night, and investors watching this company should eye it carefully before turning away.
To recap, Inter Parfums, which competes with companies such as Avon
As Inter Parfums gets more and more into high-end licensing for the brands it markets, it runs the risk of taking on sales growth that costs more than "mass market" revenues do -- because of higher royalty payments. That's what happened last year with its successful Burberry-branded products. It can combat this by selling to distributors at higher prices or by trying to get deals from suppliers -- all moves that, in the end, illustrate the complicated web in which businesses operate.
Another way to spur slowing growth is with acquisitions, which managers like because they offer the opportunity to boost growth and profits both in the near term (ideally) and down the road as efficiencies emerge. Inter Parfums' management bought last year and made it clear in last night's release that it's not afraid to do so again if the right opportunity comes along.
But if all else fails -- that's a bit dramatic, I'll admit -- management always has another tactic for appeasing those investors who are concerned about slowing growth: It can simply give them more money. That's just what's happening here: Inter Parfums says it will boost its quarterly dividend substantially on a percentage basis to $0.04 per share effective April 15. (It's been $0.03.)
If investors are happy enough to take fatter payouts in exchange for slower growth -- actually, management expects flat earnings in 2005 -- perhaps Inter Parfum's shares will break out of the flatline they've drawn since early December.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies mentioned in this article.