Consumer stocks are now as risky as they've ever been. Unemployment's historically high, consumers are spooked, and subpar earnings abound, as companies pay the price for lost competitive advantage or fiscal irresponsibility. But tough times can offer investors the best chance to buy stocks.
Even if stock prices are low, investors still need to be careful. Many companies simply won't survive the recession. Last week, I outlined two big reasons to love The Buckle
I knew it would be tough to figure out something to loathe about The Buckle; it's one of my brightest stock ideas lately. Still, reader ilmostrorosso pointed out in the comment box on last week's article that The Buckle has extremely high short interest. Indeed, as of last week, 37.5% of its float was short.
In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal article, Buckle has one of the highest short interest ratios among NYSE stocks. Chipotle
There are plenty of retail stocks I'm far less enthusiastic about, but oddly enough, their short interest pales in comparison. Abercrombie & Fitch
That's a heck of a lot of negativity dogging The Buckle. Clearly, some people think it's heading for a fall, which should give you pause when contemplating the stock.
The what, now?
Despite The Buckle's great business performance, I've never actually seen one of its stores. There's a reason for this: There just aren't that many stores out there.
The Buckle had a total of 387 stores as of January; it has operated under its current name since 1991. Obviously, this company has been slow and conservative when it comes to growth. That's arguably a good thing, but it certainly implies that there are plenty of consumers who haven't ever even heard of this retailer. (Or the stock, for that matter!)
This is certainly no Gap
Clearly, The Buckle has room for (careful and prudent) expansion, and it's hardly a household name at the moment. But at some point in the future, it will reach saturation. And since it doesn't have any other concepts, somewhere down the road it'll need to find some way to keep powering its future growth. Investors should remember that major question when eyeing this stock for the long term.
What do you think?
We've made our Foolish case on The Buckle -- now it's your turn. Do you loathe The Buckle? Love it? Have any ideas why it has such a high amount of short interest? Share your comments in the comment boxes below.