You might not guess it by looking at Coach's
Fourth-quarter net income at Coach increased 49% to $98 million, or $0.25 per diluted share. (This was a penny greater than analysts' expectations.) Sales rose 24% to $419 million. For the fiscal year, Coach reported net income up 48% to $389 million, or $1.00 per share, with sales having increased 29% to $1.7 billion. Same-store sales for the year increased 14%, which the company said was driven by an increase in average transaction, as well as "modest" increases in traffic and conversion.
However, Coach's earnings also included a benefit because of a tax benefit from Coach's completed buyout of its Japanese joint venture partner, Coach Japan, from Sumitomo. Despite the fact that the benefit did have a positive impact on Coach's numbers that might make the results look a little less impressive, there's still a lot to like. Case in point: Coach reported improving margins, with gross margin for the year increasing to 76.6% from 74.9%.
Meanwhile, Coach is one of those companies that has the enviable position of having a good bit of cash on hand -- $505 million -- although that number dropped 10.5% from last year's levels. (The company said the new cash balance reflects the buyout of Coach Japan as well as a repurchase of stock during the fiscal year.)
In its conference call, Coach's management said that an important catalyst continues to be its factory outlet stores, where it contends that a different kind of Coach customer shops. This is a customer who still desires branded merchandise but wants to feel that she is paying less for the product. Coach is trying to walk a fine line, retaining its "luxury" feel for certain customers while avoiding cannibalization from its discounted outlet stores. So far it appears that it is managing to strike a very good balance, although news agencies observed that maybe investors are taking the importance of factory stores as a sign that growth is slowing.
Regardless, Coach increased its fiscal 2006 view to $1.24 per share, and the stock fell 5%. With a forward P/E of 27, Coach may not be what one might consider a bargain at the moment, but the negativity seems to me to be overblown. Today's numbers contained many strong elements, and with Coach's historic momentum seeming to continue, it makes me wonder whether investors should bet against a company that has shown itself to be one of the best.
Check out other recent Coach developments:
- Coach was still the in thing back in the spring.
- During the holidays, full price reigned at Coach.
- Last fall, Seth Jayson wondered whether Coach was a Rule Breaker.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of Coach.