Revenue, up 21%. Same-store sales? Plus 14%. Gross margins, 45.1% up from 36%. SGA? Roughly flat.
That's it. Those are the line items by which we judge retail, and I have to tell you that other than Mickey Drexler, no one is putting up these numbers. Sure, Ross Stores (ROST) and TJX Companies (TJX) are doing quite well. I like how Target (TGT) is performing. Limited Brands (LTD) is no slouch. Nordstrom (JWN) and Macy's (M) keep performing well.
But these J. Crew numbers tell you that you can shoot the lights out in this environment, and it can be done simply by being a better merchant and doing a better job at actually retailing than anyone else.
Just for a moment, let's contrast the plus-14% comps with the minus-19% comps that everyone's been gaga over at J.C. Penney (JCP), courtesy of CEO Ron Johnson, who was once the colleague of Drexler on the board of Apple (AAPL).Other than the chart, which, alas, is breaking out, as people have told me endlessly, what has Johnson done for you? Cut the dividend? Stretched the balance sheet? Driven away the customers? Made bold predictions that haven't been lived up to? Spent millions of dollars in unhelpful advertising? Hey, if those are good things, let's take that sucker to $30 pronto. But they aren't. I have made a study of retailing all of my life, courtesy of my father's business of selling boxes and bags to retailers for 55 years. I have seen literally thousands of them come and go. I have seen the precious few who have made it. The winners all have the same formula: explosive sales of products people want with good service, low costs and excellent inventory controls. These constants happen whether the economy is good, or, as we know now, the economy is gloomy and uncertain. It's the CEO. It's the management. Crew has it. The others? They can only marvel at it. Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long AAPL.
Apple's Patent Win Isn't Enough Posted at 10:04 a.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 27 Will Apple (AAPL) now use the patent to go after Samsung with everything it has and get injunctions against Samsung to block all selling of the illicit phones? Or will it just demand a huge licensing fee from Samsung and say that if Samsung won't pay it, Apple will move all of its semiconductor work to Intel (INTC), which will have all of the chips Apple needs from the new factories it is opening now? Both are terrific options. But you have to understand that the patent win in itself isn't enough to drive earnings per share, given that companies such as Samsung will stall and do whatever it can, and it can do a lot, not to play ball the way most companies we know would deal with this. In other words, we are not dealing with some U.S. company that fears pressure or the Justice Department or the wrath of consumers. We are dealing with one of those faceless Asian companies that can do and has done pretty much whatever it wants, or it wouldn't have lost in the first place. No company that did what it did is going to abide by a verdict, especially one that will be viewed as coming from a "backyard" jury, one right in Apple's bailiwick. So, sure, it can be another reason to buy Apple and another reason to sell Samsung -- although I wouldn't sell Google (GOOG) on it -- but until Apple gets an injunction or pulls its chip biz from Samsung to Intel, I am playing Apple on product intros and earnings only, and so should you. Random musings: I am continually impressed with Tim Armstrong and what he has done for AOL (AOL). What a godsend that guy is. Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long AAPL.
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