Try On Columbia Sportswear

By Glenn Curtis | October 05, 2009 AAA

Winter is just around the corner, and with the seasonal change snow probably isn't far behind. To boot, the economy is in the midst of recovery, which suggests that more people might be traveling and enjoying the outdoor adventures. And as a result, it probably makes sense to invest in companies that sell jackets and boots, like Columbia Sportswear (Nasdaq:COLM) right?

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Time to Try Columbia On for Size?
The demand for outdoor wear should rebound in time. And by extension, Columbia has the chance to benefit.

The company has beaten estimates in the last four quarters, and companies that beat generally have a good chance to continue the string. Furthermore, companies that consistently beat seem to garner a sizable share of retail and institutional interest. In terms of what's coming up next on the earnings front, according to CNBC, the company is expected to release its third quarter numbers on the 22nd. The current estimate is 99 cents and it should beat that by at least a penny.

It trades near its 52-week, and looks as if it has some momentum and could make a new high. If it does indeed make a new high and my hunch is right, it could capture the attention of some journalists and maybe some momentum-oriented investors, if the company is lucky enough.

All Isn't a Bed of Roses
It's important to realize that until the economy materially perks up, some outdoor lovers may look to pick up gear on the cheap at some of the discount stores, including Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) Target (NYSE:TGT) and Kmart (Nasdaq:SHLD). (Read Analyzing Retail Stocks to learn about the most important metrics to look at when analyzing retail stocks)

Finally, COLM isn't cheap. It trades at around 27-times this year's estimate, which is $1.52. And so if the company does stumble, the shares could take a sizable hit.

It's Not Alone
Also, Columbia has some company in its struggles to sell higher-end merchandise during an economic slump. It's also a concern for companies like Nike (NYSE:NKE) and Timberland (NYSE:TBL).

Bottom Line
While there are some positives at Columbia, and there could be a solid trading opportunity there, investors should still be reluctant to pull the trigger. Its high price-to-expected earnings multiple should cause some concern.

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