Despite some ups and downs, 2012 has been a good year for Ralph Lauren (RL) so far. Shares of the $15 billion apparel and accessory firm have climbed almost 16%, keeping an all-important step ahead of the broad market. Ralph Lauren owns a massive portfolio of different brands, most of which include the designer/CEO's name in them in some form or fashion.
RL has a track record of success in the apparel business. The "Ralph Lauren" label is one of just a handful of clothing brands that gets the benefit of the doubt from consumers. It serves a less fickle set than brands focused solely on younger shoppers, and its price point has historically made it one of a handful of "mass affluence" brands.While the age of RL's septuagenarian CEO of the same name should pose a concern for investors, he's done a good job of building a set of brands that transcend him. International markets have significant room for expansion of the Ralph Lauren brand, particularly at company-owned stores, which carry a higher price tag and thus much deeper margins than sales to other retailers. As RL's footprint expands, so too should investor returns.
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