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  • H&M – Analysis prior to Q2 report

    Posted on June 23rd, 2009 Peter Tjernström No comments

    This analysis will be one of a slightly different character. To begin with it is, in response to popular demand, written in English. The target of this analysis is to evaluate what position to take prior to H&M’s Q2 report due on June 25, 8:00am, CET.

    From a shareholder’s perspective, H&M is a tremendous company which has delivered consistent sales and net profit growth over the last 20 years or so. The average sales growth over the last four years has been 13% and EPS growth is even better: it has risen 110% from 8,8 SEK in 2003/04 to 18,5 SEK in 2008/09. These are truly impressive numbers.

    From a purely financial point of view, the reasons behind this performance are the following:

    New Stores

    Almost all of H&M’s growth comes from opening new stores. During the last four years, H&M’s store growth rate has been on par with the growth in sales (see table 1). The company target for this FY is to open another 225 stores, adding 13% to the total. But in equivalent H&M units, the average growth rate over the last three years has been a meagre 2%. Last year the sales per equivalent unit shrunk by 1%.

    Table 1: H&M past performance and estimates for 2008/09

    Table 1: H&M past performance and estimates for 2008/09

    Currency effects

    During the three years up to July 2008, the USD depreciated in total roughly 25% against the SEK (H&M’s reporting currency) and even more against the EUR. Since most of H&M’s purchasing volume is in USD and sales in the Euro zone account for more than 60% of the total, these currency effects have been favourable for H&M and are one big part of the explanation behind the stunning margin improvements.

    Q1 report

    Some highlights from the Q1 report (Dec-Feb):

    • Gross margin was 56,6%, down from 59,6% in Q1 07/08. According to H&M, unfavourable currency effects (e.g the USD rallied against the SEK during Sept-Dec 2008) knocked 4,2 percentage points off the margin.
    • Sales in Q1 were up 18% year on year. Most of this growth came from the Euro’s appreciation vs. the SEK; in local currencies sales only grew by 4% and shrunk by 5% for comparable stores. Unfortunately, currency effect is also visible in the gross margin, as most CoS items are paid for in USD (see the first bullet).
    • Germany, which accounts for 25% of the company’s revenue, is by far the biggest single market. See Table 2.
    Table 2: H&M top markets Q1 2008/09

    Table 2: H&M top markets Q1 2008/09

    Market expectations for the Q2 report

    According to SME Direkt, a market research firm, estimates from 20 analysts expect on average 20% sales growth and 3% EPS growth for the fiscal year 2008/09.  Injecting these figures into a DCF analysis, assuming  zero growth next fiscal year and a long term EPS growth of 5%, the FV turns out at 400 SEK.  The H&M share was down 2% on Monday June 22, from 365,50 to 358.  So are investors beginning to doubt the consensus estimates? Let’s have a look at an alternative view.

    Stretch Target alternative view

    In light of the performance in Q1, I would argue that the estimates above look rather optimistic. In Q1, the gross margin was 3 percentage points lower than last year. Due to currency effects, sure, but these are likely to remain. It is in the current financial environment not very likely that the SEK, which is a relatively small currency and hence sensitive to risk aversion, will gain massively against the USD during the next 6 months. It is instead reasonable to assume that the USD will remain around 8 SEK during this period. This would decrease the gross margin by three percentage points to 58,5%.

    A more conservative estimate of the sales figure would be 18% year-on-year due to currency effects. This would result in sales of 104,5 and resulting in an EPS of 16,7. Assuming the same EPS development as above, this yields a FV of 349 SEK.

    Conclusion

    I find the alternative, more conservative, estimate to be more likely that the anayst consensus.  I believe that we may see the first signs of lower-than-expected margins and possibly sales in the Q2 report. A report lower than expectations is of course likely to have a negative effect on the H&M share price. I will sell H&M short down to 350 SEK (only 2,2% lower than now) prior to the report and close the position at 340 SEK if given the opportunity.

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