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Based on continuous robust top- and bottom-line performance, we reiterate our long-term Outperform recommendation on mall-based specialty retailer, Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ - Analyst Report) with a target price of $41.
Zumiez’s fourth-quarter 2011 earnings per share came in at 60 cents, which topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 59 cents and also improved drastically from the prior-year level of 49 cents per share on the heels of solid top-line performance primarily driven by high single-digit comparable sales growth.
Net sales in the reported quarter climbed 17.7% to $183.9 million from $156.2 million a year ago. Comparable store sales rose 9.7% in the quarter compared with an increase of 13.0% in fourth-quarter 2010.
Moreover, total revenue also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $182 million. Further, on the back of leveraged selling, general and administrative expenses, Zumiez’s operating margin improved 160 basis points to 17%.
Management’s revenue guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 was above expectations at $123 to $125 million. The Zacks Consensus Estimate prior to the issuance of guidance was $118 million. The company anticipates high-single-digit growth in comparable store sales. Moreover, the company expects earnings per share to come in the band of 6 to 8 cents per share in first quarter of fiscal 2012.
Moreover, the company is currently in the early phase of its store expansion program and plans to enlarge its network by opening 50 new stores during fiscal 2012, including 10 new stores in Canada. Additionally, in the recent years, Zumiez has launched stores averaging 3,000 square feet, which enables it to offer extended merchandise without compromising on the store ambience. These initiatives provide the company with a strong platform to effectively capitalize on emerging opportunities.
Zumiez has a nearly debt-free balance sheet with total long-term debt of $34.3 million and shareholder’s equity of $272.3 million, reflecting debt-to-capitalization ratio of just 11.2% at the end of fiscal 2011. Moreover, Zumiez ended the fiscal with $172.8 million of cash and marketable securities compared with $128.8 million at the end of fiscal 2010. This offers the company the financial flexibility to drive future expansion.
Above all, we expect Zumiez’s focus on teenage action-sports based merchandise and store network expansion to deliver solid performance in the upcoming quarters. However, intense competition from other specialty retailers, the seasonal nature of the business and risks associated with sourcing merchandise from foreign countries might weigh upon the company’s results.
The company operates in a highly fragmented specialty retail sector and faces intense competition from larger teenage-focused retailers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF - Analyst Report), Aeropostale Inc. (ARO - Snapshot Report) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEO - Analyst Report).
Our recommendation on the stock is supported by a Zacks #1 Rank, which implies a short-term Strong Buy rating.