Is Skechers (SKX) Management Guidance Too Conservative?

Skechers USA (SKX) is a lifestyle and performance footwear brand that was founded in 1992. We looked at Skechers’ recent performance using Sentieo Mosaic to assess how they will perform on their next earnings call on Thursday of this week.

SKX started off with a strong rally in October that included an earnings beat and raised guidance. However, Skechers still hasn’t gotten the deserved love from the market yet.

SKX trades lower than its peers, both in the shoe segment and in the athleisure industry, trading at just 9.5x full-year EV/EBITDA, quite a low multiple compared to its closest peers. The chart below plots 2018 CY EV/EBITDA vs. 2018 CY Revenue Growth, showing that Skechers is not getting the multiple it deserves based on revenue growth.

Skechers Revenue Growth vs Multiples

The Street seems to doubt Skechers’ profitability since margins have been a bit volatile in the past. It seems that the market has only started to recognize Skechers’ growth recently, after seeing the better-than-expected operating margins last quarter. Skechers operates in a segment of the footwear market that doesn’t give the company the pricing power and margin stability of a market leader like Nike.

In any case, as the most recent earnings release showed, the Street didn’t properly forecast Skechers’ operating margins. Analysts questioned the company’s ability to deliver necessary operating leverage while the domestic market was showing signs of uncertainty. Operating margins were roughly a 20% beat over analyst estimates, and only part of the better-than-expected EPS was a result of a more favorable tax rate.

The strong rally during the past few months was bolstered by the buzz around Trump’s tax reform and the positive effects that a lower tax rate would potentially have on Skechers’ bottom-line. However, it seems that the market has failed to keep up with the pace of Skechers’ improving fundamentals.

The black line in the chart below shows the YoY revenue growth, with the solid part showing and actuals and the dotted part showing analysts’ expectations. The Sentieo Index (which includes alternative data sets such as Google Trends and Twitter) demonstrates Skechers growth potential (dashed blue line), while Wall Street has very low expectations for revenue in the next few years, forecasting a significant deceleration (again, dotted portion of the black line). Analysts haven’t adjusted their expectations enough, and it’s likely that a big revenue beat is coming both in Q4 and in the following quarters.

Sentieo Index vs Revenue YoY

Wall Street continues to be skeptical about Skechers’ acceleration, despite underestimating Skechers’ revenue growth for four consecutive quarters and getting the margin picture completely wrong. Analysts also don’t seem to understand that Skechers’ management is offering particularly conservative guidance numbers, and has been mentioning better-than-expected results for a while.

In Q2, the management offered the following guidance:

Management Guidance – Q2

Both revenue and EPS were far above those levels, surpassing the higher end of the management’s guidance.

Something similar occurred in Q2, when revenue growth definitely surpassed the upper end of the management’s guidance. In the excerpt below, management highlights that the results were well above their own expectations:

Skechers Transcript – Sales

Perhaps management wants to set expectations low, or perhaps they have actually underestimated the sales acceleration. In any case, it’s probable that they have undervalued the potential growth in Q4 just as they did for the previous two quarters.

With sales guidance for Q4 at $860 to $885 million, the implied Y/Y growth rate would be between 12.5% and 16%, basically just in line with Q3’s growth rate even if we use the higher end of the guidance range.

The Sentieo index tells us something different. Since management has provided its guidance, the index has significantly accelerated, showing a strong confidence in Skechers. The guidance for Q4 was provided just before an inflection point of strong acceleration, shown by the Sentieo index dotted line below:

Sentieo Index and Guidance

 

We’ll be tuning into the earnings call on Thursday to see if Skechers has underestimated their performance again. To continue tracking SKX, and to study other tickers using our alternative dataset tools, sign up for a free trial with Sentieo.

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