Revolve Group’s IPO has people looking at the company in new ways.
And where the average social media user might see a wave of saucy selfies, Wall Street sees a “competitive moat” keeping competitors at bay — and that’s signaling a buying opportunity for some.
“Revolve is a Millennial-focused digital retailer with the rare combination of strong top-line growth…and profitability…plus a competitive moat — [a] network of 3,500-plus influencers and 63 percent of revenues from owned/emerging brands,” said Michael Binetti, an analyst at Credit Suisse. “We see high scarcity value and think Revolve will be a key answer as industry market share — and retail stock portfolios — continues to migrate to digital channels in coming years.”
Binetti initiated coverage of the company with a rating of “outperform” on Tuesday following a kind of black-out period after an offering when analysts who work at banks tied to the IPO have to sit on their hands.
The first take on Revolve was a bullish one, with analysts seeing a growing company with room to keep expanding, a sophisticated approach to data and solid track record. There were also some notes of caution, including the threat of tariffs given the company’s reliance on goods from China, the firm’s lack of traction in higher-end goods, volatility in e-commerce stocks and some questions about its reliance on Coachella lifestyle.
But investors seemed to buy into the bullishness and traded the stock up 6.2 percent to $34.81 on the New York Stock Exchange — where the stock made its debut last month and shot up 89 percent on its first day to $34.
Even though Ross Sandler at Barclays began with an “equal weight” rating on Revolve, he said that was because the stock was trading at a 50 percent premium to the company’s fashion e-commerce peers that have similar growth and margin profiles.
“One of the most compelling reasons to own Revolve is its boot-strappy roots and its long history of generating profit and free cash flow,” Sandler said. “The company has been self-funded since inception, in sharp contrast to what we’ve seen from most e-commerce companies. This slow-and-steady approach and discipline should lead to many downstream benefits, in areas less visible to the investment community. Things like custom-built software systems, unique processes around the supply chain and the reorder process, very well-managed customer acquisition, differentiated events like Revolve-Fest, and many other examples — all funded out of current operating profit.
“The ‘raise money and get big fast’ approach that many others in e-commerce have taken over the years is the opposite of Revolve’s approach and often involves throwing money in an undisciplined manner at problems as they arise,” he said. “Revolve has had to overcome many hurdles like the 2008 financial crisis, that has led the corporate DNA to be much more nimble and resourceful.”
Sandler said investors have wondered: “What if Instagram isn’t ‘cool’ anymore or going to Coachella isn’t ‘cool’ anymore? Where would that leave Revolve’s business?” He pointed to the attendance at Coachella, which has risen nearly eightfold over the past decade to 250,000, and noted, “Revolve has grown alongside this movement, which admittedly looks pretty rock solid to us.”
Revolve is also targeting an extremely fashion-hungry consumer.
Cowen’s Oliver Chen, which initiated coverage on the firm with an “outperform” rating, said his company’s national survey found “one-third of Revolve shoppers shop for clothes every day, and that these shoppers prioritize fashion and trendiness. Customers are highly engaged on social media and the Revolve platform directly. Our survey suggests high customer satisfaction with 95 percent of shoppers likely to recommend Revolve to a friend.”