Coach Inc (NYSE:COH), a leading American marketer of luxury handbags and other fashion accessories, will report its Q2 fiscal 2014 on January 22. Its North American results will be keenly tracked by analysts as the company had reported disappointing results from the region in the previous quarter. With a rise in consumer spending due to the cold weather, heavy discounts and a shift to online spending, it is likely that Coach will perform better in this quarter. However, since holiday season sales are often made at heavy discounts, it is possible that Coach’s margins might suffer. Moreover, North America has been a tough market for the company in the recent past due to rising competition from upcoming fashion companies such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Tory Burch.
We believe that the company’s North American results will remain weak in the near term. Since these operations account for about two-third of Coach’s sales, the retailer’s overall results will also feel the negative impact. However, Coach’s international and men’s business hold some upside for the company’s results, and this could be a highlight in its release.
It will be interesting to see Coach’s progress on its brand transformation strategy, as its success is the key for the company to sustain its market share in the North American handbags and accessories market. The strategy has had some time to come into effect and it will be interesting to see if the buzz generated by the campaigns based around the strategy will translate into more sales for the companies’ products.
Recap Of Q1 2014 Results
Coach reported net sales decline of 1% annually in Q1 2014 on 1% decline in both North American and international sales. Weak North American sales was the highlight of this quarter as comparable stores sales fell by ~7%. In addition, the weaker yen posed a headwind as total sales rose by 2% for the quarter in constant currency terms.
Operating margins fell to 27.9% compared to 28.6% in Q1 2013, owing to acquisitions of the joint venture with Pepe Jeans in Europe and the opening of new stores in Asia.
Brand Transformation Strategy Could Take Some Time To Yield Results
Coach is undertaking a brand transformation strategy to position itself as a global lifestyle brand anchored in accessories. It is re-aligning its products, stores, marketing and executive management team as part of this strategy. We believe the positive results of this transformation will start to be seen from the holiday quarter, but the overall transitioning will take a few years to complete. Therefore, the results for this quarter will show if the transformational strategy is beginning to bear fruit.
International Sales Will Continue To Grow At A Healthy Rate
Growth in international sales represents one of the key long term growth drivers for Coach. In Q1 2014, Coach’s international sales rose by 9% in constant currency terms, on the back of a solid 35% rise in Chinese sales. Chinese results will continue to be the focus this year as Coach estimates Chinese sales to grow to $530 million in fiscal 2014, as compared to $430 million in fiscal 2013. Coach’s expansion plans in China during the fiscal year include 30 new stores, which will enhance its total square footage by 25% in the region. In addition, Coach’s sales in the Asian markets of Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore continue to rise at a healthy rate. 
Coach aims to grow aggressively in Europe as it plans to open 70 wholesale and 10 retail stores across the region during the fiscal year. Coach also intends to enhance its distributor-run business in Latin America, other Asia-Pacific countries (Australia, Thailand and Indonesia) and in the Middle East. As a result, we believe the proportion of international sales in Coach’s overall sales will rise in the future. ((Coach’s CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript, Seeking Alpha, Oct 22, 2013))
The weaker yen continues to pose a headwind in this segment. Japanese sales declined by 22% in Q1 fiscal 2014 in dollar terms, even though they increased by 2% on constant currency basis. We believe the weaker yen will continue to impact Coach’s results in the near term.
Men’s Business Represents Another Growth Driver
The men’s business, which grew by approximately 50% in fiscal 2013, continues to be a long term driver for the company. We believe this business will continue to rise at a strong rate in the future and help drive both its North American and Asian sales.
Our $59.5 price estimate for Coach’s stock, represents 10% premium to the current market price.
- Coach’s CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript, Seeking Alpha, Oct 22, 2013 [↩]