Why Michael Kors' Shares Are in the Doghouse
This story has been updated from 11:16 am ET with additional information in the fourth and fifth paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Michael Kors
The analysts' notes come following news on Monday in which The Wall Street Journal noted that the Hong Kong-based retailer known for its "jet set" fashion goods should take a lesson or two from its competitor, Coach
Shares have fallen approximately 13% since it reported its fiscal fourth quarter earnings on May 28.
On Tuesday, a flurry of analysts voiced caution over Michael Kors. Maxim Group analyst Rick Snyder downgraded shares to "hold" from "buy" and his 12-month price target by $24 to $85. Snyder cited concerns that "domestic sales have weakened to a greater degree than anticipate," according to the research note.
"Our checks indicate that this has led to increased markdown activity, which is likely to pressure gross margin," Snyder wrote. "We believe that current concerns over Michael Kors' gross margin will lead to multiple contraction as investors lose confidence in their near-term growth prospects."
Sterne Agee analyst Ike Boruchow, who rates shares "neutral," also sounded the alarm. He says that while sales growth at the retailer is still "in flight," he too worries that margins could be "nearing the end of the runway," according to a note on Tuesday. Boruchow cut his 12-month price target by $8 to $92, and lowered his fiscal 2015 estimates by 5 cents to $3.95 a share and fiscal 2016 earnings estimates by 15 cents to $4.55 a share.
"Investor sentiment has shifted significantly post Q4 results, with questions increasingly focused on the trajectory of top line, as well as sustainability of margins," Boruchow penned in a note to clients on Tuesday. "While sales growth is likely to remain strong in the near term, our recent store work has found broader/deeper markdowns within retail stores and key wholesale accounts. Whether these 'red flags' are a tipping point in profitability remains to be seen; that said, we recommend remaining sidelined until we gain greater visibility."
Boruchow continued: "Elevated inventory levels, broader discounting, and investment needs may all combine to pressure margins in the near future, and as a result, we believe it will be difficult for the stock to outperform materially despite solid top-line trends."
Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen slashed his 12-month price target on the company by $19 to $98 on Tuesday. Chen, who rates Kors "neutral," is worried the stock could be "range bound" over the near term, based on the answers to a survey Citi completed that had 62 respondents. Concerns include: "additional commentary on lack of newness and limited selection; elevated clearance levels in full price stores (30-50% off promotion for 30% of thestore); a risk of moderating store productivity levels given notable store expansion cadence," according to the note.
While sales trends were "strong" in April and May, according to Chen, up +15.15% and +13.71% respectively, sales growth slowed to +7.8% in June. Chen tweaked his full-year earnings estimates lower by 5 cents to $3.95.