URBN: Idea Alert

Takeaway: We think this high quality turnaround story is still in the early stages and expect upward earnings revisions ahead in 2013.

We’re adding URBN to the long-side of our Real-Time Positions yet again. We think this high quality turnaround story is still in the early stages. The long term story has not changed, but the near-term setup has. Buying on Red.

We published it first on 3/22 with the stock at $28. Then again at $26 on 5/22. Today we have an opportunity to publish it again in the wake of a 'less than breathtaking' quarter. Though we think we'll have the opportunity to remind you of our thoughts again 20% higher a year out. 


Underlying business trends came in largely as expected in the most recent 3Q, but importantly posted continued improvement in fundamentals. Importantly, Anthro is reaccelerating headed into a highly anticipated holiday season for the brand. With a rebound in comps along with new store, online, and international growth opportunities, we see a sustainable return to low double-digit top-line growth. Moderating markdown rates coupled with tighter inventories (see SIGMA below) is gross margin bullish at the same time the company is beginning to leverage its investment spending including its new DC. This call isn’t predicated on a return to prior peak margins (18%+) to work. In fact, we’re shaking out at +/- 16% margins over the next two years which will likely prove conservative.


The reality is that sentiment is still not overly bullish with 46% Buy ratings from the 31 firms that cover the name. While modestly more bullish than the 43% Buy rating mix YTD, it’s well below the 60%-80% mix from 2008 through 2010.


We’re shaking out ahead of the Street in the upcoming quarter as well as +12% and +20% above consensus EPS in 2013 and 2014 respectively. After nearly two years of declining estimate revisions, we think we’re at an inflection point of what we expect to be multiple upward earnings revisions in 2013. It's not cheap, and it’s a slow grind to full recovery. But from where we sit, boring can still work. 


URBN Risk Management Levels:

 

URBN: Idea Alert - URBN TTT levels

 

URBN SIGMA is back in the sweet spot (sales outpacing inventory growth with margins expanding):

 

URBN: Idea Alert - URBN SIGMA