It's been a pretty quiet summer on Wall Street, aside from the terror alert on a few key financial institutions. But upscale retailer Neiman Marcus
Many retailers showcased the risky business of retailing with their August sales figures. Leading the way was Neiman, which produced a 14.7% increase in same-store sales over August of last year. Other department store foes produced mixed results, including a 2.4% decline at Federated Department Stores
Neiman's good fortune in August obviously flowed into its fiscal fourth-quarter results; same-store sales were 12.5% above last year's, and earnings of $0.42 a share easily beat the analysts' consensus estimate of $0.36 a share and nearly tripled the $0.15 per share earned last year. Sales were up 10% and 20% at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, respectively.
The company finished the fourth quarter with more than $368 million in cash after raking in $169 million in operating cash flow during the fiscal year. Management indicated that this financial strength, combined with strong results, provides it with "the flexibility to pursue initiatives that will further enhance our position with the affluent customers and increase the value to our shareholders." Possible uses for the excess cash could be an acquisition, store upgrades (like it's not upscale enough!), or a share repurchase.
The company's 87% increase in full fiscal year net income -- from $2.29 per share last year to $4.19 per share this year -- is particularly impressive. Neiman's shares trade at 13 times next year's earnings estimate of $4.33 per share. With analyst-projected earnings growth of almost 10% (annually) for the next few years, the stock appears to be in decent territory value-wise. Tipping the investment scales further in the company's favor, at least in my mind, are the strong balance sheet, healthy cash flow, and a 0.95% current dividend yield.
For more Fool coverage of the retail industry, read:
- Federated's Slow Strides, by Phil Wohl
- Neiman's in Style and Nordstrom's Not Nodding Off, by Alyce Lomax
Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.