Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jos A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB) revisited

Now that all the retailers are in a funk thanks to the subprime mess as well as the Walmart warning, let us look at this section again.

We have looked at JOSB before in this blog and noted that P/E contraction was a major risk to both JOSB and Chico FAS. True enough, even though the sales have done well, people have been dumping JOSB as well as other retailers enmasse creating an opportunity.

Let us look at JOSB business and macro factors first. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. is a nationwide retailer of classic men’s clothing through conventional retail stores and catalog and Internet direct marketing. What are the factors that can go right and what are the factors that can go wrong for JOSB?

Things going right:
1. Good job market - always a plus for JOSB. It is unlikely this will falter given the strong growth in emerging markets, europe and Japan. The U.S export growth continues to grow and the dollar will probably decline further if there is a rate cut. This bodes well for JOSB.

This not going well:
1. The housing market. A bunch of ARMs are scheduled to be reset next year - this can cause problems to JOSB and other retails if it impacts the US consumer abnormally.

If the job growth continues and the ARM resets occur in an orderly way - the consumer mix for JOSB is going to determine how well it will do.

For this, let us look at the financial statements.

First cash flows - JOSB has a price to cash flow ratio 0f 7. What this means is that the business can pay out the entire capital back in seven years if nothing is reinvested in the business. However, a part of the capital will have to be reinvested to keep the business going. Another part to look at is the sustainability of the cash flow. Let us look at the balance sheets to gain further insight into these factors.

First let us look at the free cash flow growth. It has been far for uniform - in fiscal 2002 and 2004, the company had negative cash flows. The company is excpected to have free cash flows of ~40 million this fiscal year. So the cash flows are not even meaning some dependency on the economic cycles are present.

Let us look at the latest 10-Q for more details. The company is planning to add more stores this year to expand the number of stores from 366 to close to 500. The company would put the store expansion plans on hold if there is a chance to lose money on the investment or if it is very risky. As noted by other retailers, the sales havent fallen off the cliff yet but people are expecting catastrophe to hit when the ARMs reset.

JOSB looks attractive at this price, with book value of approximately $12/share - it is definitely selling below its intrinsic value and can offer some good upside if the ARM reset doesnt hobble the economy badly. Note: please see the disclaimer part of this blog.

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