Shares of Michael Kors (KORS) have been battered over the latest one-year period, declining about 23%. Can the stock ever be fashionable again?
Last Tuesday, Michael Kors reported another disastrous quarter and guided down the current one. Third-quarter fiscal year 2017 (ends March) earnings of $1.64 per share were in line with the consensus estimate, but revenue fell 3.2%, year to year, to $1.35 billion.
While the top-line numbers didn't look too bad, the deeper you dig, the worse it got. For example, retail net sales increased 9.2%, but that was driven by the addition of 193 new stores. Of those 193 stores, 143 were acquired from the previous licensee located in China and South Korea.
On a comparable basis, sales decreased 6.9%. On a constant currency basis, retail net sales fell 10%. Wholesale net sales declined 18% to $473.1 million and 17.5% on a constant currency basis. Licensing revenue dropped 23% to $43 million.
And that wasn't all. Total North American revenue fell 7.4% to $983.8 million. European revenue declined 7% to $256.7 million; ex-currency, European revenue was 2.7% lower.
On a positive note, Asian revenue increased 89% to $112.3 million, driven by the acquisition of a former licensee.
Gross profit fell 3.1% to $805.7 million and were 59.6% of total revenue. Operating margin was 25.3%, down 402 basis points year over year.
Piling it on, management surprised investors by guiding fourth-quarter comps down in the low teens. Most were looking for a mid-single-digit decline in same-store sales. Furthermore, the company said foreign currency headwinds would hurt earnings more than expected and cut 5% out of year-end estimates.
Management now sees non-GAAP EPS between $4.15 and $4.19. The company also said fiscal 2018 would only see modest sales and earnings growth.
After that guidance update, investors largely threw in the towel. Kors is trying to restore the luster to the brand by releasing more expensive items, expanding its footwear designs, expanding its dress business and increasing marketing. But is this really the right strategy?
Coach (COH) , for example, is dumping outlet stores, scaling back on wholesale accounts to make its product harder to find, while focusing on more full-priced selling.
Currently, analysts think Kors will earn $4.18 per share in fiscal 2017 and $4.04 the year after. But I have little confidence in the 2018 number. I see higher operating expenses, lower gross margins and weaker operating margins. It's hard to see how the company's turnaround initiatives will result in lower expenses and higher margins.
I believe KORS deserves a price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple 9x or 10x on forward estimates, which means the stock would be lucky to get into the low-to mid-$40s.
It's hard to fashion a buy thesis out of that.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.