e.l.f. is known for its social media savvy and frequently follows its distribution partners on Instagram, Jefferies LLC analyst Stephanie Wissink wrote Thursday, adding that she follows the account "quite closely." Recently, she said, e.l.f. began following Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s (WBA - Get Report) Walgreens and Boots drugstore chains, "which we think hints at potential distribution partnerships in the near future."
e.l.f. plans to expand its presence at Target Corp. (TGT - Get Report) and Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT - Get Report) as well as a new footprint at Ulta Beauty Inc. (ULTA - Get Report) . The company prefers "to grow into new channels/retailers in a more calculated pace," allowing it "to adjust, pivot, and react real time to variances in store locations, beauty trends, etc." e.l.f. recently launched in 200 locations of British drugstore chain Superdrug Stores PLC.
Boots, which Walgreens acquired for about $27 billion from 2012 through 2014, has about 2,500 stores in the U.K. With its new international experience, "we could foresee them expanding into more stores abroad, like Boots Walgreens," Wissink wrote. "Based on the increased inventory and managements commentary around clearing the inventory we would not be surprised to see new distribution partnerships announced."
Walmart and Target are by far e.l.f.'s biggest retail customers, representing 30% and 28%, respectively, of its total sales. The third-largest is CVS Health Corp. (CVS - Get Report) , which Wells Fargo Securities LLC analyst Bonnie Herzog estimates account for 9% of total sales. While further shelf space gains and increasing comparable sales should drive growth, she also predicts there's "significant long-term potential for ELF to expand into new retailers."
International sales accounted for just 8.4% of last year's total sales. Its primary focus is on Canada, the U.K. and Mexico. Herzog also predicts e.l.f. could prove successful in emerging markets "given the extreme value price points."
e.l.f. went public in September in a blockbuster IPO. Private equity firm TPG Capital LP acquired the company in 2014 in a transaction TheStreet sister site TheDeal reported was worth $300 million. TPG beat out rival bidders including Coty Inc. (COTY - Get Report) and Helen of Troy Ltd. (HELE - Get Report) .
e.l.f. reported its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, earning 12 cents per share on sales of $55.9 million, ahead of the expected 3 cents per share and $55.7 million, respectively. CEO Tarang Amin told TheStreet that he doesn't expect that the company's channel mix of 80% national retailers and 20% direct-to-consumer, including e-commerce, will change.
"We're a true multichannel brand and we think that's the right proportion," he said. "We plan to grow all three channels - through retail partners, e-commerce and our own stores."
e.l.f. and Walgreens did not respond to requests for comment.
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