Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Shareholder's Meeting Preview: Abercrombie and Fitch


With summer casual fashion behemoths like J Crew (NYSE:JCG) and Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL) stealing all the thunder lately, investors may have overlooked the inherent strength in the historically well branded Abercrombie and Fitch (NYSE:ANF). Between Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, and newcomer RUEHL No.925, these stores cover almost every casual summer fashion niche in the United States.

The expansion overseas of Abercrombie & Fitch in London will most likely provide for potent viral marketing in the European and Wealthy Middle Eastern scenes. The Savile Row plays a critical role in courting the high-end constituency of European consumers, while seeding possible expansion offers from growing Middle Eastern consumer capitals such as the U.A.E., Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Although seemingly squeezed lately by the rise of competing brands, Abercrombie's brands are known for staple summer fashion at accessible price points for young adults. I must concede that the inherent risk associated with Abercrombie may be in the slow developments of new products throughout their stores, however this may also be the stability that investors have come to take for granted.

For example, while J Crew's popularity has risen in the last few years, their net profit margin is about half that of Abercrombie's at 6.75% compared with 12.72% , with the Return on Assets being similar.

I would suggest that during the Shareholders Meeting, Abercrombie's historical strengths are reiterated by CEO Michael S. Jeffries, along with an emphasis on potential growth in overseas markets.

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