One of the hottest topics on the Motley Fool Hidden Gems message board for newsletter pick Select Comfort
So, along with real shareholders, I was intrigued to find out that Select Comfort would have a new director for its marketing efforts. Yesterday, Select Comfort appointed a La-Z-Boy
Is this good news? That question should be on shareholders' minds, and the answer is far from easy. Although the press release announcing his departure lauds Collier's contributions to La-Z-Boy, it's tough not to notice the negative sales trends during his tenure there, -4.2% in 2002, -2% in 2003, and -5.3% 2004.
To be fair, there's only so much one person -- even a marketing chief -- can do. This was a period characterized by tough competition from the likes of Hooker Furniture
In the just-finished fiscal year, La-Z-Boy's trajectory was better, though the reported 6.3% sales gain benefited from an extra week in the year. Adjusting for sales on a weekly basis, I peg La-Z-Boy's revenue growth at a slimmer 3% gain. In other words, it looks like a mixed bag to me.
On a more subjective level, Collier looks like a good prospect to give Select Comfort a bit of hipness. The company has relied too long on washed-up '70s celeb Lindsay Wagner (yeah, the Bionic Woman) to do its heavy lifting in the public arena. La-Z-Boy's press release credits Collier with bringing in designer Todd Oldham -- who's done work for Target
I have to admit, upon reacquainting myself with La-Z-Boy's entire line, I was shocked to see just how attractive and contemporary the furniture is. Does that reflect well or poorly on La-Z-Boy's marketing? I recently bought a room full of furniture and didn't consider La-Z-Boy for a second -- and now I'm sort of sorry I didn't. Shouldn't the marketing department at La-Z-Boy be keeping me aware of the great stuff they've got?
I don't want to give too much weight to my personal experiences, but let's be frank: Select Comfort needs some continuing magic for the top line. With the stock trading at what I consider to be slight premium to actual growth, there is little room for the single-digit developments that came in at La-Z-Boy over the past few years. As a fan of the product and someone who would love to own the stock again, I hope the new marketing man can put up juicier sales growth for Sleep Number beds than he did for America's most famous recliner.
Related Foolishness that won't put you to sleep:
- See why this Hooker lost respect on the Street.
- Despite the soggy sales, La-Z-Boy's got the goods where it counts, on the cash-flow sheet.
- So did Select Comfort, last quarter at least.
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