In December, Fool analyst Seth Jayson was smiling in response to solid sales figures from Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick New York & Co.
What has Seth celebrating St. Patrick's Day early? Try on double-digit top- and bottom-line growth for size. Net revenues for the quarter increased 16.1% compared with the same period a year ago, driven by strong same-store sales that were up 9.6%. Thanks in part to share dilution and slightly weakening merchandising margins, its earnings-per-share increase trailed behind with 12.5% growth to $0.36.
In the New York & Co. conference call, CEO Richard Crystal attributed the quarter's strength to the company's "compelling assortments" and successful marketing campaign. More specifically, he said, the company has an effective inventory strategy in place that lets it quickly meet its customers' ever-changing tastes. For instance, one category that it was able to capitalize on in the quarter was women's knits.
Additionally, management is pleased with the results from its new stores as well as its remodeled units -- both of which are experiencing above-average production in sales per square foot. This improved circulation pattern from its new floor format has helped increase other categories, such as accessories.
Accessories such as jewelry were cited as a source of strength as the company entered 2006. New York & Co. is also seeing positive results from its wear-to-work collections. But weakness in other areas, such as casual wear, is one reason overall sales were below expectations at the start of the new fiscal year. To reflect the weaker start to the first quarter of 2006, management issued new guidance earlier this month -- and shares took a decent thumping in response.
But cooler heads appear to have prevailed: The stock has since rebounded nicely, and rightfully so. The enterprise is well positioned to take advantage of both external and organic growth opportunities. Its balance sheet of $57.4 million in cash with only $31.5 million in long-term debt gives it ample options should it choose leveraging strategies for acquisitions. Plus, it will continue to grow organically as improved floor formats from new and remodeled stores continue to come online.
Overall, I agree with the Hidden Gems team that New York & Co. is a compelling opportunity for investors with a long-term horizon.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares of any companies mentioned.