by Ed Elfenbein | March 17, 2013 9:00 am
Recently I said that Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) had become a very attractive value. The home-furnishings retailer had been slammed a few times last year after it gave weaker-than-expected guidance. I think the market had overreacted, which is what markets often do.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that last weekend, Barron’s jumped on the BBBY bandwagon. The magazine said that BBBY “could” fetch as much as $85 per share. True, “could” is a rather broad word, but the key fact for us is that BBBY is a very well-run outfit. Barron’s wrote:
Bed Bath has had no direct competition since Linens ‘n Things was liquidated in 2008 after a bankruptcy. It controls an estimated 25% of the domestic home-furnishings market. Department stores offer limited competition because clothing generally generates higher profits per square foot of selling space than housewares.
Bed Bath’s strategy is unlike any other major retailer’s. It rarely advertises and usually avoids markdowns except on seasonal items, while providing excellent customer service. It targets customers with coupons offering a 20% discount, or $5 off, a single item (with a wide number of excluded products) to help drive traffic. As savvy shoppers know, Bed Bath & Beyond generally accepts expired coupons, and it’s known for a liberal returns policy—customers sometimes needn’t present a receipt. And they often present multiple coupons. The approach works because many customers come for a single item and leave with many, as they walk around the “racetrack” layout of the narrow-aisled stores.
Bed Bath & Beyond has zero debt and impressive operating margins. They’re sitting on nearly $4 per share in cash. While they don’t pay a dividend, BBBY is one of a few companies that truly buys back its own shares in an effort to reduce share count. Since 2004, share count has dropped by 100 million to 226 million. The next earnings report is due out in mid-April.
I’m pretty bullish on these guys, and raising the Buy Below on BBBY to $62.
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