U.S. Markets closed

Are Any Apparel Stocks Worth Buying Now?

Zacks Equity Research

The U.S. apparel industry, one of the largest in the global market, has lately become nothing more than a puppet in the hands of consumers. The drastic change in consumer preferences, not only for designs and patterns of merchandise, but also shopping trends have left apparel retailers in bewilderment for ways to attract customers keep changing persistently.

In response to the challenging retail backdrop, retailers are allocating a large chunk of capital toward a multi-channel growth strategy focused on improving merchandise offerings and developing IT infrastructure to enhance web and mobile experience. Further, modernizing stores, developing fulfillment centers to enable speedy delivery, implementing an enterprise-wide inventory management system along with enhancing relationship with existing and new customers have become a prerequisite.

Additionally, apparel retailers are bringing in new capabilities like “Buy Online Pick Up in Store,” “Buy Online Return in Store,”  and “Dressing Room” by Gap Inc. GPS.

Despite all the brainstorming, apparel stores across the nation are crumbling due to soft mall traffic as customers increasingly prefer online shopping to store hopping. The increasing competition from e-tailers like Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, which is expanding on apparel lines, has been a rising concern for the apparel store operators.

In 2016, the industry saw bankruptcy filings from many teen retailers including Pacific Sunwear, Wet Seal, Delia’s, Aeropostale and Quiksilver. Further, many have resorted to closing stores to tackle weak performances including the likes of Macy’s Inc. M, Kohl’s Corp. KSS, Men’s Wearhouse and Finish Line Inc. FINL.

Fate of the Apparel Industry

As evident from the above discussion, the apparel industry is not doing well given the decline in foot traffic as well as the rising competition in the space. This is well reflected by the industry returns delivered in a span of one year.

At Zacks, we have two separate industry classifications for the apparel industry including the Retail – Apparel and Shoes and the Textile – Apparel Manufacturing. The basic difference in this classification is that the first one includes apparel retailers, while the second comprises apparel manufacturers.

Coming to the performance, the Zacks categorized Retail – Apparel and Shoes industry lost 22.8% in the past one year, while the Zacks categorized Textile – Apparel Manufacturing industry declined 16.2%. Both the industries have underperformed the 16.7% growth registered by the S&P 500 index in the same period.



Further, a look at the Zacks Industry Rank reveals that the apparel industry is in an unfavorable position at the moment. Of the 256 Zacks industry ranks, the Retail – Apparel and Shoes industry is ranked #245 and is placed in the bottom 4% of the Zacks Rank industries. Likewise, the Textile – Apparel Manufacturing industry is ranked #244, placed in the bottom 5% of the Zacks rank industries.

Going forward, we believe the challenging trends in the apparel industry will persist as brick-and-mortar stores continue to lose sheen to the rising online businesses.

Are Apparel Stocks Worth Buying?

The dismal performance of the industry as a whole and expectations that the turmoil will persist surely suggests staying away from the stocks in the space. In spite of big losers in the industry such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ANF, American Eagle Outfitters Inc. AEO, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. KORS, Ralph Lauren Corp. RL and many more, there are a few stocks that still hold promise and are backed by a favorable Zacks Rank.

Here, we bring you two apparel stocks worth buying based on their favorable Zacks Rank and VGM Style Score, alongside a positive surprise trend. These stocks have a VGM Score of ‘A’ or ‘B’ and flaunt a solid Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Our research shows that stocks with VGM Scores of ‘A’ or ‘B’ when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best investment opportunities in the growth investing space.

Our Picks

Investors can count on The Children’s Place Inc. PLCE, which operates as a children's specialty apparel retailer. The company, with a VGM Score of ‘A’, posted an average positive earnings surprise of 39% in the trailing four quarters. Moreover, it has a long-term earnings growth rate of 8% and sports a Zacks Rank #1. On a year-to-date basis, the stock has advanced roughly 11.9% and crushed the Zacks categorized Retail – Apparel/Shoe industry, which declined 12.8%.



You may also consider Foot Locker Inc. FL, a retailer of athletic shoes and apparel. The stock has a VGM Score of ‘A’ and carries a Zacks Rank #2. The company posted an average positive earnings surprise of 2.2% in the trailing four quarters and has a long-term earnings growth rate of 9.7%. Further, the stock has returned nearly 2.2% year to date, crushing the Zacks categorized Retail – Apparel/Shoe industry’s decline of 12.8%.



Want to hear more about what is going on in the retail market these days? Check out our consumer focused podcast, Shopping for Stocks, for more information below!



 

Zacks’ Best Private Investment Ideas

While we are happy to share many articles like this on the website, our best recommendations and most in-depth research are not available to the public.

Starting today, for the next month, you can follow all Zacks' private buys and sells in real time. Our experts cover all kinds of trades… from value to momentum . . . from stocks under $10 to ETF and option moves . . . from stocks that corporate insiders are buying up to companies that are about to report positive earnings surprises. You can even look inside exclusive portfolios that are normally closed to new investors. Click here for Zacks' private trades >>


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Abercrombie & Fitch Company (ANF): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Gap, Inc. (The) (GPS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Foot Locker, Inc. (FL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
The Finish Line, Inc. (FINL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Children's Place, Inc. (The) (PLCE): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Macy's Inc (M): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Kohl's Corporation (KSS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Ralph Lauren Corporation (RL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Michael Kors Holdings Limited (KORS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
Zacks Investment Research