One word: Solid
Ok, a few more words...
BBBY reported 1Q EPS of $0.34, substantially ahead of the Street which was looking for $0.25. Our model was looking for $0.27. The beat came on all three key line items. First, same store sales came in at only down 1.6%, about 80 bps ahead of the Street. We were looking for down 2%. Gross margins were much better than expected, down only 44bps vs. our model which had them down 80bps. Sequentially the performance was better than 4Q. This further indicates the real opportunity in the near term from the Linen's liquidation still lies with a more benign promotional environment and fewer coupons. SG&A was much better as well, with the expense ratio down 163 bps. We were modeling a slight decline. Finally, the balance sheet was solid with inventories down just over 1%, against total sales that grew by 2.8%. Still no debt and a growing cash balance now standing at $855 million. With almost $900 million remaining in share repurchase authorization, perhaps we'll see some activity there as the cash generation accelerates.
Bottom line here is solid outperformance with all of the key metrics coming in better than expected. I still believe there is more upside to come as the year progresses and the couponing subsides. To report a down 1.6% comp in what most would consider a very tough environment for home-related products is a standout on its own. EPS growth of 14% is also a rare commodity these days.
Our thesis here remains unchanged.
- Over the next 12-24 months BBBY is a "mean revision" story, driven by an improving economic backdrop, the elimination of the company's most direct competitor, and the bottoming of the worst period in modern history for home furnishings consumption.
- Gross margin recovery is the most overlooked item by the Street and the source of upside over the near and intermediate term. A more rational promotional environment driven by Linen's absence is key to the story.
- Modest square footage growth of 5% coupled with operating margin recovery should drive FCF growth in excess of 15% over the next 2 years. Cash flow yield remains attractive at 6.1% ('09) and 9.0% ('10) respectively.
- Multiples are full, so this needs to be an earnings-driven story. The good news is that the Street's numbers are 1-year behind. $0.25-$0.30 beat per Yr1 and Yr2 x current multiple = $5-$6 in share price/yr.