Much like the women's fashions it sells, I just can't keep up with bebe
What has happened to bebe shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to any Fool. While the company has been a tremendous performer, it was also priced for perfection. As I discussed back in August, bebe's forward-looking guidance since July has been disappointing, and the stock has been sliding off of its perch of perfection ever since. When it issued a warning back at the start of September regarding its same-store sales, the stock plunged almost 24%. With bebe's release of its first-quarter earnings report last Thursday after the market closed, investors had yet another opportunity to be disappointed, and the stock fell more than 10% in Friday's trading. Now -- and I can't believe I'm going to ask this question -- have investors dumped bebe a little too aggressively?
To be fair, I should point out that this dramatic stock drop since July has taken place despite a plethora of great news, including record-setting earnings. For Q1 2006, the company increased earnings 19% to $13.6 million, or $0.14 per diluted share after a $0.02-per-share charge for stock option expense. Net sales climbed 22.3% to $126.2 million, while same-store sales soared 17.3% after increasing 12.5% in last year's first quarter.
Looking forward to Q2, bebe expects earnings per share of $0.24 to $0.29, compared with $0.24 last year. That's not the kind of growth investors had come to expect from the company, which earned $0.26 per share in the second quarter of 2005. The company also expects same-store sales growth to be minimal -- increasing in the low- to mid-single digits.
As a result of the disappointing forecast, the Street continued to exchange bebe's stock for more appealing designs. Its forward P/E of around 16 times still isn't cheap, but it's definitely more reasonable than it was in its heyday back in July.
I think the sell-off in bebe's shares has been justified, but I don't think Fools holding this stock should be overly concerned just yet. Its fashions are still in demand, and the company's growth plans appear well designed. If it can maintain moderate growth going forward with some consistency, the ride should be much smoother than in the past.
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Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own shares of bebe.