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Ulta(ULTA - Get Report) rounds out our list this week. The $6.3 billion firm owns approximately 450 big box stores spread across more than 40 states. That geographic footprint is significant. By spreading out a relatively small number of stores across a wide area, Ulta can focus on expanding is presence in regions that have already demonstrated the best performance. Those extra data points dramatically cut down the risks of expanding the firm's scale.
Ulta is about as niche as retail gets. The firm stocks more than 20,000 different products at each store, giving customers selection that they won't find in the beauty section of a more conventional retailer. And Ulta's size also affords it some big advantages. By buying high-margin beauty items (such as brand-name fragrances) in scale, the firm is able to pass on considerable savings to its customers.
Ulta's valuation is a little bit less beautiful. The firm currently sports an earnings multiple of 45, which means that investors are already pricing in some pretty substantial growth right now. The firm will need to live up to those expectations if it wants to keep a share price in the triple-digits.
That said, a debt-free balance sheet and plenty of cash on hand help to mitigate the pricey premium that investors are doling out for shares right now. So does the room for expansion that Ulta has here in the U.S.
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