I guess it was time for my comeuppance. In July, I had noted that despite apparent robust sales, fragrance distributor Inter Parfums
Last month I again donned my black robes and hood, grabbed my scythe, and pronounced that quarterly results were less than they seemed. With shares trading at $12.45, this time they responded by rising 36%! As I write this, shares are trading at more than $17 a stub. Oof! To top it off, Inter Parfums released guidance today estimating sales for 2005 to be around $280 million, up almost 23% over 2004. Pow!
Maybe I'm just contrarian by nature. Perhaps my ex-wife was right and I'm just stubborn. Possibly the writer of the latest email I received was correct and I am just an idiot. In spite of the market's reaction, though, I still don't see a whole heck of a lot to get excited about here.
The licensee of brands such as Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Lacroix, and Paul Smith reiterated full-year sales for 2004 at $228 million. That means that fourth-quarter sales will come in at about $55.7 million, a decline of 4% from the third quarter and an increase of 13% over this time last year. That's a drop-off of more than 60% over last year's growth rate.
Earnings growth rates are also expected to fall. With full-year earnings for 2004 expected to be $0.77 a share, that translates into EPS of $0.18 for the fourth quarter, which is flat from last year. Inter Parfums says its full-year guidance for 2005 will also be for EPS of $0.77, so we're not seeing any growth at all. That's why I find it hard to get excited by the company's announcement.
With the company sporting a negative enterprise value-to-free cash flow (EV/FCF), I would normally dismiss it as a possible investment. However, I think Inter Parfums does have potential. The company has a stable of important fragrance brands, has a controlling interest in the men's skin care company Nickel, and says future acquisitions are always possible. It's the stock's valuation I have trouble with. With the rates of growth flat in both revenues and earnings, I find the stock to be pricey.
To be sure, the stock is up some 14% on the news, clambering back to its summer levels. Let's just hope the company is only giving me a "what for" and isn't setting up investors for another fall.
Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.