A couple of weeks back, in reviewing the third-quarter earnings results for retail clothier American Eagle Outfitters
This "warning" -- if you want to call it such -- resulted in an immediate 7% clip to the Eagle's share price. Wednesday, the company followed up with an earnings warning whose character is unmistakable: Comparable sales figures for November came in at 1.7%, as opposed to the double-digit growth that analysts had been looking for. As a result, the Eagle decided to lower its fourth-quarter guidance to $0.70 to $0.72. As a further result, the stock fell 9%, and is already swooning further, down another 7% on Thursday.
Thus, as we stand today, American Eagle has molted more than 16% of its share price in a little over two weeks. Not good.
Or rather, not good for existing shareholders, but potential shareholders should be elated. Because whatever the comparable sales figures say, and whatever is "in" a penny (or three), American Eagle now looks to offer patient Fools a tremendous value. Reviewing the company's past four quarters of reported cash flow (it didn't provide a cash flow statement with its third-quarter earnings release -- for shame!), I see that the Eagle has posted trailing free cash flow of $361.5 million. Compare that with the company's now-grounded market cap of $3.3 billion, and you're looking at a firm valued at just nine times free cash flow -- but with a 31% return on equity and analysts still projecting long-term profits growth of 15% per year.
The company looks cheaper still when you remove its cash hoard from the picture and realize that its enterprise value is just $2.9 billion. That gives it an enterprise-to-free cash flow-to-growth ratio of roughly 0.6 (after adding back interest expense) -- an out-and-out steal.
Now, I certainly understand it if investors today would rather own a store like CitiTrends
Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares in any company named above.