Fossil: Not Exactly Luxury — And That’s OK

by Kyle Woodley | August 8, 2012 5:45 am

At this point, it feels like high-end retailers are just playing head games with us.

How else can you explain the fall and rise of Fossil (NASDAQ:FOSL[1]), which jumped more than 30% on Tuesday after its stellar Q2 earnings report — just three months after a gloomy outlook kicked the watch-seller’s shares in the wrist?

That’s a lot of turbulence to stomach, so can investors trust FOSL after this latest move?

Well, first, let’s look at the earnings report itself — which, by the way, was as one-sided as last week’s U.S.-Nigeria Olympic basketball game. Some highlights:

Also cheering investors: Full-year adjusted profit forecasts of $5.34 per share, which trumped analyst expectations for $5.27. That number, as well as some of Q2’s performance, is thanks in part to an earlier-year acquisition of Nevada-based watchmaker Skagen Designs.

But wait. Wasn’t FOSL supposed to take its butt-whoopin’ along with other high-end retailers?

After all, we were just treated to a lousy report from luxury accessories big-timer Coach (NYSE:COH[2]), in which we got some troubling news from the American front[3]. Months earlier, jewelry icon Tiffany (NYSE:TIF[4]) sent ripples throughout the sector when it slashed its 2012 sales and earnings forecasts[5] with sniffs of the same U.S. weakness and expected European sloth.

Not to mention, Fossil helped get this ugly ball rolling when it lowered its 2012 outlook.[6] At the time, FOSL forecast full-year earnings of $5.30 to $5.40, a step lower from previous guidance of $5.40 to $5.50.

Well …

As mentioned above, FOSL enjoyed healthy growth across North America, Europe and Asia, thanks to several factors including the Skagen line, as well as healthy sales of its Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS[7]) jewelry line. The latter certainly makes sense, considering KORS itself seems to be navigating the waters just fine[8] right now.

But Fossil’s performance did have a few holes in it. Jewelry ended up being a soft spot, at least in Europe, where those sales ended up dropping by nearly 11%. The company’s leather business also fell by about 9% in North America. So those warning flags from other luxury brands had some merit.

However, it’s important to remember that Fossil isn’t really “luxury.” At least, not compared to some of the names occasionally tethered to it. While FOSL definitely relies on disposable income, and its products — watches, wallets, handbags, shoes and other accessories — definitely fall closer to “fashion discretionary” than “fashion staple,” the company offers a mix of both appreciated brand name and respectable prices.

For instance, when it comes to watches, you easily can get an attractive men’s timepiece from Fossil for $100. Sure, you’re not flashing an Omega, but unless you roll with a name-dropping crowd, you can properly accessorize for one or two zeroes less than you’d plunk down for a Speedmaster.

You’ve gotta love brand accessibility in a wobbly economy.

That versatility has shown up in Fossil’s bottom line, with the company growing earnings an average of 40% in the past four years, as well as quarterly year-over-year improvement in eight of the past nine (with one flat quarter). Even the company’s lower earnings expectations of $5.34 per share for the fiscal year would mark 15% growth — the clip that analysts expect Fossil to grow at for the next five years.

Fossil’s stock trades at about 20 times trailing earnings — not great, but about what you can expect for a company with decent growth prospects. If that P/E holds up, you’re looking at roughly 30% gains in about a year. Not to mention, FOSL — along with a host of other companies duking it out overseas — could get some help should the strong U.S. dollar[9] shed some muscle in coming months.

In the long term, Fossil should have plenty of upside, so the answer to the original question is “Yes, you can trust it.” But high expectations have bred strong reactions, and thus volatility. You likely can wait for a dip before getting into FOSL, then brace yourself for a rocky ride up.

Kyle Woodley[10] is the Assistant Editor of[11]. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Follow him on Twitter at @KyleWoodley[12].

  1. FOSL:
  2. COH:
  3. troubling news from the American front: http://troubling%20news%20from%20the%20American%20front
  4. TIF:
  5. slashed its 2012 sales and earnings forecasts:
  6. when it lowered its 2012 outlook.:
  7. KORS:
  8. navigating the waters just fine:
  9. strong U.S. dollar:
  10. Kyle Woodley:
  12. @KyleWoodley:

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