A dividend hike was one of the few good things that shareholders of Williams-Sonoma (WSM) got yesterday. The $3.5 billion high-end housewares stock reported holiday sales numbers to Wall Street yesterday morning, disappointing investors with poor guidance and underwhelming sales before offering up a 29% dividend increase. Shares caved double-digits in yesterday's trading as a result.
While the update was hardly bullish, there are some other silver linings to WSM's performance. While the firm is another one that had heavy secondary exposure to the housing market, sales actually rebounded in fiscal 2011, rising up above the revenue numbers investors saw in 2009 and 2010. International exposure likely holds the keys to growth for Williams-Sonoma; the firm will need to be smart about where it opens up shop abroad to get ahold of its core demographic. The decision to franchise international locations is a good start.From a financial standpoint, the firm is in solid shape with effectively no debt and a fairly large cash position. Yesterday's dividend hike brings the company's payout to 22 cents per share -- that's a 1.98% yield right now. While this is hardly a core income holding, it is a good way for investors to get exposure to middle class consumer spending. WSM shows up on a list of Goldman Sachs' Consumer Stock Best Buys for 2012.
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