Predicting what the stock market will do next is impossible, but it doesn’t stop people from trying. Investors often trade way too much, hampering the potential for compounding to work its magic in the pursuit of satisfactory long-term returns. The best strategy, therefore, is simply to buy great businesses and plan to hold through the inevitable ups and downs.
Riding the comfort trend
With sales gains accelerating over the past four quarters, Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) is experiencing unprecedented growth thanks to consumers’ heightened focus on comfort. In the most recent quarter, revenue soared 93.3%, as Crocs registered record sales of $641 million in the three-month period that ended June 30. The company’s famous clogs accounted for 74% of business, with sandals and Jibbitz (customizable shoe charms) being other key product categories.
Crocs has really shown adeptness at boosting its brand relevance, relying on social media and digital channels, as well as influencer campaigns and collaborations, to drive consumer awareness.
“We were the first footwear brand to market an augmented reality experience on TikTok, with our hashtag #GetCrocd challenge, featuring try-on sandals and clogs with Jibbitz. Globally, this drove over eight billion views and over one million uses of the hashtag,” CEO Andrew Rees said on the earnings call. Crocs also recently worked on partnerships with Justin Bieber and Spanish luxury fashion house Balenciaga.
Direct-to-consumer revenue, consisting of items moved on the company’s website or through its own stores, represented more than 50% of sales in the quarter. And Crocs’ 61.7% gross margin, which is higher than Nike‘s, is truly remarkable given that the average selling price during Q2 was just $21.84. The operating margin of 30.5% is stellar as well.
Management believes that Asia, and particularly China, is the next major growth opportunity. Crocs will deploy the same branding and marketing strategy that’s working so well here in the U.S., leaning heavily on digital and social media to drum up interest.
Crocs is certainly firing on all cylinders today, but investors are right to wonder whether this is just a short-lived pandemic surge or something more sustainable. Based on the smart moves the company is making, this $9 billion mid-cap stock could be winning for a long time.
Beating its discount-store peers
You wouldn’t expect a brick-and-mortar retailer to be in this discussion, but Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE), with its 1,121 nationwide stores and 51.7% year-over-year sales growth, definitely warrants an investment today. The discount store chain’s stock, up 344% over the past five years, has advanced much faster than that of bigger rivals Dollar General and Dollar Tree.
Five Below focuses on teens and tweens, offering a wide assortment of items such as beauty products, clothing, and home décor, all priced below $5. And the business has a Five Beyond section for merchandise higher than $5, utilizing a treasure-hunt shopping atmosphere that encourages consumers to spend extra time in the store. It’s no wonder that the average customer visits a Five Below 10 times and buys 60 different items per year. What’s more, the annual household income of these customers is $73,000, so the company isn’t just attracting the most budget-conscious consumers.
Over the past decade, Five Below has been opening new stores at breakneck speed, more than quintupling its footprint since 2011. And management thinks the U.S. can eventually handle 2,500 locations, which would be more than twice the current number. This makes a lot of financial sense, though, given that each store generates more than $2.1 million in annual sales volume. Furthermore, when analyzing the initial build-out cost of a new store versus its year-one profitability, Five Below sees an outstanding 150% return on investment.
Wall Street analysts are expecting earnings to skyrocket 200% from fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2023, signaling a very bullish view of the company’s prospects. With all the negative talk of the demise of physical retail, Five Below stands out by carving a niche within the sector. Adding this dominant business to your portfolio is a sound financial decision.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.