Coach makes and sells handbags and other accessories (such as wallets and umbrellas) through a network of around 465 North American stores, a large presence online, and in third party channels like department stores. Put simply, this company was a superstar during the recession. While other luxury firms stuck to their guns on price, Coach targeted mass affluent consumers, dropping prices and spurring huge sales spikes without diluting the appeal of its brand.
Now, the firm's biggest tailwinds come from emerging markets. China still offers a big opportunity for growth, as an increasingly wealthy middle class population goes on a consumption spree. While growth concerns in China have scared some investors away, they're more likely to be temporary speed bumps than they are chasms. With a dividend yield of 2.07% and valuation metrics that look far cheaper than they have anytime in the past, investors may want to give this handbag stock a second look.
Harley-Davidson (HOG) is another firm that's enjoyed the success of an incredibly strong brand. The $10.6 billion motorcycle maker is one of the most well merchandised brands, plastered on everything from trucks to t-shirts. But the big bucks come from the bikes.Harley has long dominated the touring bike market, building big heavy cycles that earned a cult following for their comfort and their "Made in America" status. But more recently, the firm has been gaining market share by taking market from its import rivals. Bikes like the V-Rod are a big change from most folks' typical image of a Harley -- but the V-Rod has helped widen Harley's appeal in a difficult market for big-ticket toys. Like many vehicle manufacturers, Harley Davidson has a captive finance arm that makes loans for customers looking to buy bikes. While captive finance units are a necessary evil, Harley's finance group is particularly problematic as a recreational motorcycle is typically the first payment to get late when times get tough. That said, with credit exceptionally cheap and economic metrics showing improvement as we head into 2013, investors shouldn't be too worried about HOG's finances just yet. A solid track record of deep net profit margins and large free cash flow generation should keep value flowing to shareholders in the year ahead.
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