The Gap Inc. stock is having a rough day, falling 12 percent to $19.11, while the broader market is hitting a 2-month high.
The stock is getting slammed following its poor April same-store sales report where sales fell 7 percent versus the expected increase of 0.5 percent. Old Navy had been the success story of the chain, but sales there dropped 10 percent.
Wall Street analysts have become impatient with the retailer’s turnaround prompting rating cuts and lowered price targets. The stock is now trading at levels it hasn’t seen since 2012. Roughly $9 billion in market cap has been erased in just two years.
Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Trussell reiterated his sell rating on the stock and lowered his price target to $17. He believes the company is over-stored and is priced too high versus its peer group. As an example, a linen t-shirt at H&M is priced at $17.99, while the Gap sells a similar product at $29.95, then marks it down to $22.46. Trussell thinks the customer has been trained to wait until the items go on sale because they are too highly priced to start.
“I think that at this point in time there is difficulty to have visibility on where the turning points are and where the catalysts are that lie ahead,” said Trussell on CNBC today. He said the company has suggested it will discuss where new stores will be located and where new capital will be employed during the earnings call next week.
Trussell, though, believes it is too little and too late. “We don’t see a near-term turnaround,” he said. Trussell also pointed out that the Gap is facing fit and fashion challenges and has a limited ability to cut costs. He said the free cash flow can no longer support the bottom line as it has in the years past.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Tunick was equally downbeat on the company as he also lowered his price target from $26 to $20. “It’s too soon to call the bottom as North American traffic volatility creates an ongoing need to clear inventory,” said Tunick. He expects the company will discuss restructuring efforts during its earnings call on May 19.
Tunick thinks the company will talk about centralizing some decentralized brand functions as well as evaluate the European and Japanese stores for Banana Republic and Old Navy. He suggests it’s a small part of the business and could free up the management to focus on righting these ships. Tunick also noted that Gap still can’t seem to find the sweet spot for product and price.
The Gap had been turning things around under chief executive officer Glenn Murphy, but he left in 2012 and was replaced by digital head Art Peck. Many investors were dismayed when potential successor Stefan Larsson left for Ralph Lauren. Larsson had been credited with the good performance at Old Navy. Now it seems, Wall Street has thrown in the towel on the retail and its patience has reached its end.