There's carnage in the retail industry at the moment as once-beloved chains watch their stocks crash and burn.
Urban Outfitters manages five brands offering apparel and home goods directed at millennial shoppers. The company operates more than 400 of its own retail locations worldwide, as well as selling its merchandise through other specialty and department stores.
That should give investors some pause because department store sales have been plummeting. However, Urban Outfitters has been shrewd enough to not depend on sales of its merchandise through these decaying outlets.
And in fact, the company has been steadily building its own e-commerce business, which has met with success.
Last year, the company revamped its mobile app to send more personalized messages to its users. The Urban Outfitters app now uses dynamic audience filters using PlaceIQ data-based on real-world location information and other Appboy data. For example, Urban Outfitters sent push notifications to promote party dresses exclusively to female audiences who frequent bars and nightlife locations.
This high-tech -- albeit somewhat creepy -- method of targeting customers has led to improved online conversions and sales per customer.
The company also has a very diverse business. Not only does it sell clothing and home décor, but it owns an Italian restaurant and an event space, as well as managing a food and beverage division.
During the fourth quarter, the company recorded sales that missed analysts' expectations at $1.03 billion, rather than $1.05 billion. However, some analysts, including Stifel's Richard Jaffe, aren't concerned.
"Despite a sales miss in January, we believe that the Urban Outfitters and Free People brands are well positioned for the first quarter, and we anticipate management will likely be positive regarding the outlook for both brands on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call in March," Jaffe wrote recently.
During 2016, Urban Outfitters took its investors on a wild ride, with its stock whipsawing a bit but ending the year up by around 35%. This year could follow in this roller-coaster pattern.
If you are not scared of a little risk and are looking for a play in the beaten up retail sector, grab shares of Urban Outfitters when its stock takes a dip in price. It might be one of the few exciting moneymakers left in the retail industry.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify details of URBN's mobile strategy and mobile application.
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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.