Apparel retailer Gap (GPS) has been executing in a big way over the last couple of years, without much fanfare. But the proof is in the firm's $15.65 billion in revenues for the year ending last February. Shares of Gap have rallied 31% in the last 12 months, but shares still havent gotten rich in valuation. Better, management has paid an 8.53% shareholder yield on top of it all.
Gap is a mall staple store, selling upmarket apparel to mass-affluent consumers. That positioning gives Gap access to the golden goose of buyer demographics. But Gap goes beyond its namesake store; the firm also owns Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. Those brands give gap a diversified reach into other buyer groups, and spread the business across more than 3,000 company-owned stores. Gap's international growth strategy is a model for low-risk/high-return: the firm has 500 franchised stores in markets like the Middle East and South Asia, spots where GPS' operational expertise is handed off to store owners who take the risks but need to buy inventory from Gap.
Strong margin has contributed to a strong balance sheet at Gap. The firm carries $1.5 billion in cash on its books, with just $1.2 billion in debt. That's effectively no leverage for a retail name that's everywhere. Coupled with a P/E multiple of just 15, Gap looks cheap in 2014.