Iconix Brand Group
I've long been a fan of small-cap clothing firm Iconix Brand Group (ICON) because it ventured to do something that far too many clothing firms were scared to do: It stopped selling clothes. More accurately, it switched its business from capital-intensive apparel manufacturing to brand management -- focusing on designing, marketing and licensing an impressive stable of clothing brands instead of worrying about all of the moving parts of a manufacturing operation.
With names such as Candie's, Badgley Mischka, Mudd, Mossimo and Rocawear under its belt, Iconix's portfolio of 17 brands is one of the most recognizable in the country -- and it spans the gamut from discount sportswear to runway fashions. As a result, Iconix benefits from extremely deep margins and predictable, contractual revenue streams.And because the company owns the names and fashions that fuel exclusive, established names such as Mossimo at Target (TGT), the company arguably has a major advantage in licensing negotiations. The same can be said at other retailers such as Wal-Mart and Sears (SHLD). In a time when investors' focus is placed on hard assets and real value, it's no surprise that the massive amount of intangible assets on Iconix's balance sheet has scared off some bulls and sent bears into short mode -- at present, the company has a short ratio of 12.1. But as long as ICON can keep its ever-expanding base of brands generating high-level returns, this stock will continue to be worth a second look. Iconix shows up on a recent list of 8 Consumer Stocks With Upside.
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