Fossil Group, Inc.’s FOSL stock plunged 21.5% on Feb 26, thanks to drab fourth-quarter 2019 results. The top and the bottom lines declined year over year. Increased promotional activities coupled with inventory write-down weighed on profitability in the reported quarter.
Quarterly results were also hurt by sluggish performance in older generation connected products and continued weakness in the department stores. Also, soft consumer feedback, owing to competitive pricing for value-oriented products, remains a concern.
However, strength in Gen 5 (its recent-generation display product) and Hybrid HR product, solid double-digit growth in Asia and sturdy third-party e-commerce growth provided some cushion to the company.
We note that shares of the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have plummeted 44.8% in the past three months, significantly underperforming the
industry’s decline of 10.8%.
Q4 in Detail
Fossil reported an adjusted loss of 6 cents per share against adjusted earnings of $1.01 in the prior-year quarter. The bottom line was negatively impacted by a penny due to adverse currency fluctuations.
Worldwide net sales of $711.6 million declined 10% from the prior-year quarter due to dismal performance in traditional wholesale channels and older-generation connected watches. Also, store closures and business exit hurt sales by 160 basis points (bps). On a constant-currency (cc) basis, worldwide net sales fell 9% year over year. The top line also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $725 million.
Further, global retail comps declined 3% in the reported quarter. The company witnessed a high-single-digit decline in full-price comps. Increased promotions and currency headwinds dented retail margins. Apart from these, e-commerce in the Americas remained drab, owing to the lower-than-expected performance of older-generation connected products.
Fossil’s gross margin contracted 970 bps to 43.3%, courtesy of one-time non-cash costs of $38 million related to higher inventory valuation adjustments, increased promotional activity, and elevated costs such as freight and tariff. This was partly offset by gains from the New World Fossil 2.0 program and solid growth in Asia.
The company posted an operating loss of $0.9 million against operating income of $67.3 million in the year-ago quarter. The decline was caused by the underperformance of older-generation smartwatches, higher promotionsand inventory write-down.
Performance of Business Categories
Category wise, sales in the watches segment declined 9% year over year to $578 million in the quarter. Sales in the leather and jewelry businesses fell 9% year over year to $78 million and 16% to $43 million, respectively. Sales in the other businesses were $13 million, down 7% on a year-over-year basis.
Region-Wise Performance & Other Financial Updates
Sales dropped 16% and 11% to $317 million and $241 million in the Americas and Europe, respectively.
Further, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $200 million as of Dec 28, 2019. Also, long-term debt and shareholders’ equity were $179 million and $503.8 million, respectively.
The company operated 451 stores as of Dec 28, 2019, including 221 full-priced accessory, seven full-priced multi-brand and 223 outlet stores. Out of all Fossil stores, 199 are located in the Americas, 161 are in Europe and 91 are in Asia.
Fossil Group, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
2020 Guidance Management issued guidance for 2020, wherein it expects a 4.5-11.5% decline in net sales. This includes the negative impacts of 1.3% and 0.5%, stemming from business exits and currency movements, respectively. However, it estimates the additional week in the current year to favorably impact 2020 sales by 50 bps.
The company envisions gross margin of 50.5-51.5%, suggesting a modest year-over-year expansion. Favorable channel mix, better-connected margins and gains from New World Fossil 2.0 are likely to aid margins. However, increased promotions and tariff headwinds will likely persist.
Moving on, the company projects core sales in Asia to continue rising in double digits. Meanwhile, softness in wholesale in the Americas and the AMEA region is likely to persist. The global direct-to-consumer channel is expected to witness modest growth. Category wise, the jewelry business is estimated to get back on track, while leathers and watches will foresee slight declines.
For first-quarter 2020, the company expects a 3.5-10% decline in net sales, considering the negative impacts of 2.5% from business exits and 1.3% due to unfavorable currency movements. Gross margin is predicted to be 47-49%.
The guidance is inclusive of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the company’s global business performance. Fossil expects to get back to production in the next few weeks on the back of solid inventory along with adjustments in sourcing and assembly sites. No supply-chain disruption is anticipated to occur in the next several months, except for that in China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and Travel Retail businesses, which accounted for 10% of global sales in the reported quarter.
Amid such tough conditions, the company remains committed to transforming its business to keep pace with consumers’ changing preferences. In doing so, it is making efforts to deploy more resources toward the direct-to-consumer platform, increase its connected product offerings and strengthen its foothold in the Asia region. Keeping in these lines, Fossils intends to introduce connected LTE product in 2020. Apart from this, it remains poised on expanding in the CE and telecom space, and lowering its connected presence.
Further, the company successfully completed its first New World Fossil Program, 1.0 in 2019, generating $200 million of benefit in gross margin and operating expenses. Encouragingly, it launched the New World Fossil 2.0 Transform to Grow initiative, which is aimed at improving the gross margin and lowering operating expenses over the next three years. Keeping in these lines, it realized cost savings of $50 million in 2019.
Going into 2020, management expects additional gains of $65 million from the initiative. Out of this, $15 million is projected to be related to gross margin improvement, while the remaining $50 million is likely to be witnessed from reduced operating costs.
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