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Shares of V.F. Corporation (VFC - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high of $195.06 on Friday, Jun 28, beating its previous high of $193.09 on Jun 19, and eventually closed trade at $193.06. The stock has gained momentum since the company announced its 5-year initiatives and strategies to boost shareholder returns. This global apparel retailer has amassed a year-to-date return of 29.7%.

Average volume of shares traded over the last 3 months was approximately 528K. Moreover, the company currently trades at a forward P/E of 17.77x, a 5.5% discount to the industry average of 18.81x.

Investors became more optimistic about this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, after the company outlined its key financial targets through 2017 at an investor meet held on Jun 11. Its announced goals aimed at driving strong cash flow, and consequently funding acquisitions, dividends and share repurchases.

As part of its key financial targets, V.F. Corp. expects to increase revenues to $17.3 billion by 2017, recording a 5-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% – including 8% organic growth and 2% growth from acquisitions. Earnings per share through 2017 are projected to reach $18.00, reflecting a 5-year CAGR of 13%.

The company now expects gross margin to jump 300 basis points (bps) to 49.5% in 2017 from 46.5% in 2012. Operating margin for 2017 is likely to grow to 16%, rising 250 bps from 13.5% in 2012.

This growth in the company’s margins will likely drive annual cash flow from operations to $2.4 billion by 2017, with cumulative cash flow generation of $9.5 billion from 2013 to 2017. Based on such strong cash flow projections, the company expects a dividend payout rate of 40%, annual total shareholder return of more than 15% and return on invested capital of 20% by 2017.

What further bolsters investors’ confidence on the stock is the company’s history of positive earnings surprise.  We observe that V.F. Corp. has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the past 14 quarters by an average of 10.5%.

V.F. Corp.'s diversified brand portfolio and its brand management – with the focus on developing its brands further – position the company more advantageously than its peers. Given the strength of many of its brands and the opportunities in distribution, we believe that V.F. Corp. is well poised for long-term growth.

Apart from V.F. Corp., companies such as Carter’s, Inc. (CRI - Snapshot Report), Cigna Corp. (CI - Analyst Report) and Magna International Inc. (MGA - Analyst Report) achieved new 52-week highs of $74.50, $73.13 and $71.97, respectively, on Jun 28, 2013.

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