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Tickers in this Article: ANN, AEO, TGT, GPS
The stock market was under heavy pressure last Tuesday. The Dow was down more than 200 points as investors fretted over concerns about Greece. It's too bad that investors were distracted and put off by equities because early in the day some news was released by AnnTaylor (NYSE:ANN) that deserved more attention than it received.

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Extra, Extra
In the release there were two pieces of information that particularly caught my attention. The first was that ANN is now looking for Q1 sales of about $475 million, which would be leaps and bounds higher than its previous outlook, which was about $445 million. It also indicated that the: "gross margin rate is expected to approach 59%, compared to the company's previous outlook which anticipated a gross margin rate of approximately 56.5%. " This is a big bump up in the outlook and a sign that perhaps the worst in the retail space is now behind us. It is likely that this news could attract the attention of the sell side community too. Analysts had been expecting the company to generate a top line number of just under $453 million per the AP. It is actually interesting to note that the same day, on May 4, Jesup & Lamont upped its rating on the company to buy from hold, this could increase interest in the stock.

There are some other things to like about AnnTaylor too. Data indicates that the earnings estimates for this year and next year have been rising over the past several months. This too could generate interest in the stock. While the stock did bounce higher on this news, just under $2 higher, I might have expected an even bigger bump up given the size of the improved outlook. If the stock stalls in the mid $20s or pulls back, this could be a nice opportunity.

Other Retailers That Are a Good Fit
Gap, Inc. (NYSE:GPS) trades at under 13.5 times this year's estimate, which is a good deal and it has beaten expectations in the last two of three quarters, which could turn a large number of necks. Its first-quarter numbers are due out later in the month. The company is expected to earn 40 cents. Also, while not solely an apparel retailer I remain interested in Target (NYSE:TGT), which has clearly done well on the earnings front. The discounting powerhouse can be bought for under 15 times this year's estimate. Finally, American Eagle (NYSE:AEO) at 14 times this year's estimate could have some upside too.

Bottom Line
The downdraft we saw in the market earlier in the week had a lot of people scared. But this may be an opportunity to warm to companies that are or are expecting to perform well such as AnnTaylor. The recent upgrade by Jesup & Lamont could draw eyeballs to the stock as well. In addition, the fact that the estimates for this year and next have been rising too are pluses. (For more stock ideas, check out Utilities Stocks With Dividends To Spare.)

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