J. Crew's dynamite retail magic
Competitors can only marvel at this winner's simple formula: Sell tons of products people want while maintaining good service and low costs.
The best retailer on earth reported Wednesday. Not that anyone cares. I'm talking about the amazing numbers from privately held J. Crew (which, actually, have yet to be reported because of some public debt that was sold to finance the buyout). They are breathtaking.
Revenue, up 21%. Same-store sales? Plus 14%. Gross margins, 45.1% -- up from 36%. SGA? Roughly flat.
That's it. Those are the line items by which we judge retail, and I have to tell you that, other than Mickey Drexler, no one is putting up these numbers. Sure, Ross Stores (ROST) and TJX Companies (TJX) are doing quite well. I like how Target (TGT) is performing. Limited Brands (LTD) is no slouch. Nordstrom (JWN) and Macy's (M) keep performing well.
But these J. Crew numbers tell you that you can shoot the lights out in this environment and it can be done simply by being a better merchant and doing a better job at actually retailing than anyone else.
Just for a moment, let's contrast this plus 14% comps with the minus 19% comps that everyone's been gaga over at J.C. Penney (JCP), courtesy of CEO Ron Johnson, who was once the colleague of Drexler on the board of Apple (AAPL).
Other than the chart, which, alas, is breaking out, as people have told me endlessly: What has Johnson done for you? Cut the dividend? Stretched the balance sheet? Driven away customers? Made bold predictions that haven't been lived up to? Spent millions of dollars in unhelpful advertising?
Hey, if those are good things, let's take that sucker to $30 pronto. But they aren't.
I have made a study of retailing all of my life, courtesy of my father's business of selling boxes and bags to retailers for 55 years. I have seen literally thousands of them come and go. I have seen the precious few that have made it. The winners all have the same formula: explosive sales of products people want, with good service, low costs and excellent inventory controls. These constants happen whether the economy is good, or, as we know now, the economy is gloomy and uncertain.
It's the CEO. It's the management. Crew has it.
The others? They can only marvel at it.
Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and is long AAPL.
More from TheStreet.com
JUDGING FROM THE LACK OF COMMENTS, THE WORD IS OUT ON THIS CROOK.......
MAY HE JOIN MADOFF, MOZILO, AND COMPANY IN JAIL
talent in capitalist business is a few at the top making millions off the backs of the workers
whom they pay pennies...........hardly talent to benefit at others expense
Short term thinking for sure, as if it continues I am gone. And then another reader, and potential buyer of site-advertised products, is gone. Surely more money in ads than in allowing spam.
Nice work, Microsoft.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
3 stocks will be in the spotlight Thursday as investors try to make sense of the numbers from the sector.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.