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Vans Does the Trick

By Dave Marino-Nachison
January 15, 2004

We talked about casual apparel and shoe company Vans' (Nasdaq: VANS) strong back-to-school quarter in September, when the company turned in solid same-store sales and earnings growth. Vans appears to be feeling continually good. The company said yesterday that it's raising its expectations for fiscal Q3 and the full year following strong holiday sales.

This news was broken by way of a press release (available on the SEC website as part of an 8-K filing) announcing that Vans execs will present tomorrow at a conference out West. (You can follow the presentation, scheduled for 12:15 p.m. ET, online.)

While it would be nice to have more detailed information, the earnings outlook is encouraging. Vans is raising its expectations for Q3 and the full year by $0.04, bringing its range (excluding the skate park business) to between $0.24 and $0.26 for the quarter, and between $0.60 and $0.64 for the year. Figures including the gone-sour skateparts were substantially lower.

These numbers, management says, were driven by improved retail gross margins (read: less discounting and, hopefully, good inventory levels) and same-store sales that rose an impressive 15% for the first six weeks of the quarter. (Q2 ended November 29.) Vans, in short, continues to be one of the more impressive fashion turnaround stories of recent years.

The company has regained investor support by moving away from skate parks, showing strength in both retail and wholesale (a less profitable but still a valued revenue source for fashion brands), and increasing its appeal to female shoppers who spend more and more often than their male counterparts. The company has earned its recent climb. The stock, edging up to $12, is approaching its levels of 24 months ago.

Talk about Vans' resurgence -- and the steps that lie ahead -- on our Vans discussion board.

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at
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