After taking a beating in early trading Monday, Helen of Troy
Sales continue to be a mixed bag for the company. OXO sales remain strong (up 26% over last year, even though the company didn't own OXO last year), but personal care revenue dropped 6% and was flat sequentially. All in all, total revenue grew 19% for the quarter and actually exceeded the single available estimate.
The news doesn't get a lot better as you move down the income statement. Gross margins slipped slightly on a year-over-year basis, but selling, general and administrative (SG&A) spending was up quite a bit. If you strip out the SG&A expenses tied to the OXO business, you still see a 17% increase due in large part to higher freight, consulting, legal, and personnel costs. At the bottom line, Helen of Troy produced $0.33 in earnings and missed the mean estimate by $0.06.
While management is attributing its increasing inventory to a deliberate effort to stock ahead of seasonal demand patterns, investors should keep an eye on this number in future quarters. If upcoming new-product introductions go well, sales, profits, and inventory should all sort out nicely. But if sales stay stagnant, that inventory buildup will be a drag on results.
So what of the stock? If you pull up a chart, you'll see plenty of past mood swings.
In my view, there's no question that the company's core business is struggling right now. What's more, it irritates me greatly to see that the CEO took home a $9 million bonus for the past fiscal year. Not only does that bonus seem outsized in its own right, but it grew almost 70% from the prior year. For those of you out there who own the stock, that's $0.28 per diluted share in bonus money for your CEO.
If you can make your peace with the executive compensation philosophy, value may yet lurk within these shares. OXO is a solid and growing brand, and if the company can jump-start the growth engine for the personal care business, a very low-teen P/E doesn't seem too out of line. For me, though, I'd rather find a company in which payments to the CEO are a lower proportion of earnings.
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At the time of publication, Fool contributor Stephen Simpson held no financial position in any companies mentioned.