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Analyst Blog

Foot Locker, Inc. (FL - Snapshot Report) has once again proved itself to be a safe bet for investors. The stock touched a new 52-week high of $49.63 on May 13, 2014 before closing at $48.86. So far in 2014, the stock price has increased 21% supported by its long-term growth initiatives, solid quarterly results and impressive shareholder return policy.

Headquartered in New York City, Foot Locker is a retailer of athletic footwear and apparel. To improve overall performance in the long-run, the company has undertaken several initiatives. The company continues to utilize opportunities presented by its children’s business, its shop-in-shop expansion in collaboration with its vendors, development of its store banner.com and enhancement of its assortments, which might help it to reach new heights in the coming years.

Going forward, Foot Locker expects to work on its store restructuring plans, increase its investments in technology in Europe and expand its Women’s business, which makes management optimistic of achieving its operational objectives.

Driven by significant initiatives undertaken to achieving its long-term goals, the company posted record fourth-quarter and fiscal 2013 results in Mar 2014.  Its quarterly adjusted earnings of 82 cents soared 28% year over year, and were much ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 75 cents. For the full year, the company’s earnings witnessed a double-digit rise for the fourth time in a row.

On an average, the stock has delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 21.6% over the past 14 quarters, making investors constructive on the stock’s performance. Providing further impetus to the stock is its sales performance for the quarter that escalated 4.6% year over year to $1,791 million, benefiting from a 5.3% rise in comparable-store sales.

The company is expected to announce first quarter fiscal 2014 results on May 23, 2014. Our proven model shows Foot Locker as likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate this quarter. Foot locker carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and a positive Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) of 1.91% (the Most Accurate Estimate stands at $1.07 whereas the Zacks Consensus Estimate is $1.05).

For a stock to outperform, it needs both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3.

Apart from delivering strong top-line and bottom-line growths, the company is also known for its shareholder-friendly moves. In fiscal year 2013 the company bought back 6.4 million shares worth $229 million, which includes 1.6 million shares, repurchased in the fourth quarter.

Additionally, management hiked its quarterly dividend by 10% to 22 cents a share and also approved a capital expenditure worth $220 million for fiscal 2014. This further instills confidence among investors as dividend hikes reflect a company’s sound financial position and healthy cash flow.

The stock currently trades at a forward P/E of 15.2x, a 6.6% discount to the peer group average of 16.3x, hinting at further upside potential. Moreover, its last trading price is 6.2% below the Zacks Consensus Price target of $52.11. Average volume of shares traded in the last 3 months is 1,655.8 million.

Apart from Foot Locker, Hanesbrands Inc. (HBI - Analyst Report), Rite Aid Corp. (RAD - Analyst Report) and V.F. Corp. (VFC - Analyst Report) also hit 52-week highs of $83.58, $8.02 and $63.99, respectively on the last trading day.

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