I have posted about this stock about 2 years ago, as the stock was approaching $30 per share. I said not to buy into the story that Lifetime was selling, as it did not make sense. At $8.25, just off the 52-week low, I think I was right.
I have been a retailer of many of Lifetime's products for almost 80 years. Over the course of their last acquisition binge, ranging over the past 6 years or so, the company was able to take a moderately successful to very successful product offering, and make it essentially non-existent in the market place. Their latest acquisition of Mikasa, I believe will inevitably have the same outcome.
• Retroneu, who used to be dominant in the mainstream retail market, has now taken a backseat to more contemporary and consumer friendly names, such as Kate Spade and Vera Wang. • Later on came the Syratech acquisition, all of the premier American sterling silver companies (with the exception of Reed & Barton, Gorham who came to Lifetime later on from Lenox, and Oneida), along with the home furnishings business, and their stainless steel flatware business. After this acquisition, Vera Wang pulled her brand from the company, and gave it back to Wedgwood (the maker of her dinnerware). That was one of the heavy hitters for the company. • In terms of Syratech’s other product offerings, they have been almost non-existent. To add insult to injury with commodity prices rising, I do not see sterling silver flatware adding much to their business. • Lifetime’s one-stop-shop website absolutely removes any of the allure of buy sterling silver, or any of their upscale products. I do not see this avenue of for Direct- to Consumer Sales adding significantly to their bottom line either. They have prostituted the sterling silver line by selling to stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond. I do not think consumers want to buy Sterling Silver flatware for $600- per place setting (and rising due to Sterling Silver costs), form fitting underwear, a toilet seat and Goobers in the same store. But that is for another post. • The acquisition from Salton Home also has no real industry pull. Sasaki, Calvin Klein, Atlantis, etc. are all names, but none of those items appears in Home Designer nor Bridal Magazines. • Other issues I believe facing Lifetime are bankrupt businesses in the retail industry, such as Linen and Things and Fortunoff.
If you are buying this company with the idea that, their spatulas and other supermarket, gadgets are going to carry them you are in for a surprise. That idea proved to be wrong with the lackluster performance of Food Network, and Martha Stewart lines they introduced in the fall. This company has been very successful in buying up companies in the retail industry. They like the big names and the big players in the industry. However, after acquisitions, the lack of excitement in product lines and consumer interest leaves the brands for dead. Lifetime is like a property owner that owns many apartment buildings, but collects no rent. Unless they bring some renewed brand loyalty to their lines with consumers and retailers alike, they are going to have a tough time, even more so, with the Mikasa acquisition.