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Friday, 22 August 2008
Estee Lauder (EL) "Trading Transparency"

Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice!  As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

As I wrote in the prior entry, I am still trying to catch up with my trading activity from last week.  This entry should bring the blog up to date with all of my recent trades accounted for.  I apologize once again for letting my blogging lag behind my trading.  It is all a part of being an amateur I guess :).

As I reported previously, I sold my 161 shares of Genoptix (GXDX) on the same day I purchased them--August 14, 2008.  On that same day as well, I checked the list of top % gainers on the NYSE and noted that Estee Lauder (EL) had made the list.  After a quick review of some of the data I use to screen stocks, I felt that Estee Lauder was an appropriate, and probably a less volatile, investment for me.  

I purchased 140 shares of Estee Lauder (EL) on 8/14/08 at a price of $49.87.  EL closed at $50.44 on 8/22/08. With this entry, I would like to share with you why I feel that

ESTEE LAUDER (EL) IS RATED A BUY

First of all, what does this company actually do?

According to the Yahoo "Profile" on Estee Lauder, the company

"...engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of skin care, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products. Its products include moisturizers, creams, lotions, cleansers, sun screens, and self-tanning products; lipsticks, lip glosses, mascaras, foundations, eyeshadows, nail polishes, and powders; fragrance products for women and men; and hair color and styling products, shampoos, conditioners, and finishing sprays. The company offers its products under the Estee Lauder, Aramis, Clinique, Prescriptives, Lab Series, Origins, MzAzC, Bobbi Brown, La Mer, Aveda, Jo Malone, Bumble and bumble, Darphin, American Beauty, Flirt!, Good Skin, and Grassroots brand names. It also manufactures and sells Kiton and Toni Gard products as a licensee."

In my family, I can tell you that it is Clinique that is the most popular of the Estee Lauder brands.

How did they do in the latest quarter?

It was actually, as is often the case, the announcement of fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, August 14, 2008, prior to the opening of trading, that drove the stock higher in trading and led to it being on the 'top % gainers list' where it caught my own attention and landed it in my portfolio.

For the quarter ended June 30, 2008, the company reported net sales of $2.01 billion, up 14% from $1.76 billion the prior year.  Even without the effect of currency exchange rates, the company reported an adjusted sales increase of 9% year-over-year.  Net earnings for the quarter climbed 36% to $120.2 million, up from $88.6 million the prior year.  On a diluted earnings per share basis, this worked out to $.61/share this year, a 38% increase over the $.45/share reported last year.

These results were strong even more than just because they were solid results; that is, they also beat expectationsAnalysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of $.56/share (the company came in at $.61) on revenue of $1.93 billion (they came in at $2.01 billion).

The company appeared to have reassured skittish investors regarding 2009 results guiding to a sales growth of 6 to 8% (adjusted for exchange rates) to $8.39 to $8.54 billion in 2009.  They expect profits between $2.57 and $2.72/share.  Earnings guidance was within expectations but revenue guidance was above expectations according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

With these strong results exceeding expectations and guidance for 2009 with earnings at expectations and revenue above expectations, the stock moved ahead in price enough to make the top % gainers list where it caught my own attention and interest.

How about longer-term results?

What caught my attention with this stock was the strong earnings report.  What 'clinched the deal' was the superb longer-term record as reported on the Morningstar.com '5-Yr Restated' financials page for Estee Lauder (EL).

Revenue growth has been steady since at least 2003 when the company reported $5.05 billion in revenue, increasing each year to $7.04 billion in 2007 and $7.66 billion in the trailing twelve months (TTM).

Earnings, except for a dip between 205 and 2006, have also shown steady growth with $1.26/share reported in 2003, increasing to $1.78 in 2005, dipping to $1.12/share in 2006, only to rebound to $2.16/share in 2007 and $2.25/share in the TTM.

The company does pay a dividend and has been increasing it almost yearly from $.20/share in 2003 to $.50/share in 2007 and $.55/share in the TTM.  Outstanding shares were 235 million in 2003 and the company has been retiring shares to 208 million in 2007 and 205 million in the TTM.

Free cash flow has been positive if a bit erratic with $249 million in 2005, $449 million in 2006, $350 million in 2007 and $379 million in the TTM.

The balance sheet appears solid with $410 million in cash and $2.4 billion in other current assets.  This total of $2.81 billion, when compared to the $1.77 billion in current liabilities yields a current ratio of 1.59.  The company has an additional $1.729 billion in long-term liabilities.

What about some valuation numbers?

Reviewing the Yahoo "Key Statistics" on Estee Lauder (EL), we can see that this is a large cap stock with a market capitalization of $9.81 billion.  The trailing p/e is a very reasonable 20.98 with a forward p/e even nicer at 16.81 (fye 30-Jun-2010).  However, the PEG ratio is a bit rich (I like to see ratios of 1.0 to 1.5 or less) with a result of 1.70.

As reported by the Fidelity.com eresearch website, EL is a good value as measured by the Price/Sales (TTM) ratio with Estee Lauder coming in at 1.23 with an industry average of 1.58.  In terms of profitability, as measured by the Return on Equity (TTM), EL doesn't do quite as well with a figure of 32.63% compared to the industry average of 50.12%.

Returning to Yahoo, we find that there are 194.4 million shares outstanding.  As of 7/28/08, there were 10.14 million shares out short representing a 5 day short interest ratio.  With the outstanding earnings report, we may have been witnessing a bit of a 'squeeze' as short-sellers scrambled to cover their 'pessimistic'wagers and instead rushed to cover their short sales by purchasing stock.

As noted above, the company pays a forward dividend of $.55/share, yielding 1.10%.  The last stock split was a 2:1 split back on June 3, 1999.

What does the chart look like?

Examining the 'point & figure' chart on Estee Lauder (EL) from StockCharts.com, we can see the dip in price in 2005/2006 coinciding with the dip in earnings per share.  Otherwise the chart appears quite strong with the price staying above the support lines and breaking through resistance earlier this year when it passed through $45/share. This chart looks nice to me!

Summary:  What do I think about this stock?

I really like this stock pick a lot.  In fact, I liked it enough that I bought shares :).  

This isn't about the Peter Lynch aspect of this investment---you know with my wife and daughters supporting the Clinique brand of EL--but more about all of the usual factors I use to 'pick' a stock.  

The company moved strongly higher on the 14th of August after announcing a strong earnings report that beat expectations.  Longer-term, this company has been reporting steady revenue and earnings growth (even after adjusted for currency effects).  They pay a dividend and they are increasing it.  They have a decreasing number of outstanding shares, the free cash flow is strongly positive and the balance sheet looks solid.

What is there not to like about this stock?

Valuation-wise, the P/E is just over 20, the PEG is a bit rich,  the Price/Sales ratio compares favorably with its peers, and the Return on Equity is solidly positive if a bit under where its peers are trading.

Thanks again for stopping by and visiting!  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com.  If you can, be sure and visit my Covestor Page where my actual trading portfoli is monitored and evaluated, my SocialPicks page where my stock picks from early 2007 on are monitored, and my Podcast Page where you can download an mp3 or two of me discussing some of my favorite investments from the blog.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Yours in investing,

 

Bob 


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 11:40 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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