Market Watch: Spotlight on Luxury Brands… U.S. Economic Data

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Feb. 4:
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. Q3 results
Asics Corp. Q3 results
R.G. Barry Corp. Q2 results    
U.S. Senate judiciary hearing on credit-card breaches

Wednesday, Feb. 5:
Ralph Lauren Corp. Q3 results
Twitter Inc.’s trading debut

Thursday, Feb. 6:
Bebe Stores Inc. Q2 results
National Retail Federation to announce expectations for 2014 retail sales growth
U.S. initial jobless claims
U.S. continuing jobless claims
U.S. trade balance for December

Friday, Feb. 7:
U.S. consumer credit
U.S. debt-limit deadline
U.S. jobs report
Stock Watch

Following another week of sliding U.S. equity markets and growing concerns about weaker results this earnings season, industry watchers are becoming increasingly cautious about the outlook for 2014. With economic data becoming softer over the month of January, all eyes will be on the National Retail Federation’s report on Thursday about the industry’s expectations for annual retail sales growth in 2014.

Market jitters are expected to intensify throughout the week ahead of the U.S. debt-limit deadline on Friday.

Investors also will be looking to results from luxury brands Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., Christian Dior S.A. and Ralph Lauren Corp. for a read on consumer demand after weaker sales over the holiday selling season. 

Analysts expect Michael Kors to post revenue and earnings increases of 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, following several periods of double-digit growth. Investors will be looking for an update on market share captured from Coach, whose comparable-store sales in North America dropped 13.6 percent in the most recent quarter.

R.G. Barry Corp. will announce its second-quarter and first-half fiscal 2014 results on Tuesday, with investors looking for an update on the retail environment over the holidays. For the first quarter, the company had cited unfavorable timing of its holiday shipments to retailers and sluggish foot traffic among the factors that crimped earnings. CEO Greg Tunney could provide guidance on the company’s outlook for the full year, after lowering expectations in the previous quarter.

The Street predicts R.G. Barry will post earnings per share of 12 cents when it delivers its results. Revenue growth is forecast to be $27.8 million, down from $51.1 million in the prior quarter.  

Meanwhile, shares of Under Armour closed last week 29.5 percent higher at $108.11, after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts’ expectations, resulting in a slew of upgrades to the Street’s forecasts for the full year. The firm’s shares hit a record high on Thursday as it forecast revenue would be between $2.84 billion and $2.87 billion, up from $2.33 billion in 2013.  

Mitch Kummetz, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said the strong results could negatively impact other companies in the sector this earnings season if they fall short of analysts’ estimates.

He added that while companies such as Deckers Outdoor Corp. and Columbia Sportswear Co. continue to benefit from cold winter weather, companies dependent on a recovery in consumer demand will be put under the microscope this earnings season. Shares of Deckers closed the last week 4.4 percent higher, while shares of Columbia were down 0.3 percent. 

“We’ve had two particularly warm winters and retailers have reacted by being particularly cautious with their merchandise and underinvesting, so going into the back half of 2014, they will be more aggressive with pre-booking existing merchandise,” Kummetz said. “Once they get those orders in, they will be pretty robust and we could potentially see raised guidance or upgrades in the second half.”

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