The two off-price retailers keep the consumer happy by delivering designer apparel at discounted prices. They also appeal to analysts like the consumer team at Cowen & Co., who considers the names to be “Un-Amazonable” — an acknowledgement of the power of Amazon Fashion.
This comes at a time when Amazon is eliminating list prices so that online shoppers see the suggested price versus Amazon’s potentially cheaper price. Consumers will just see one price on products going forward.
That isn’t the case at Ross Stores or TJ Maxx, where shoppers will continue to see comparison prices — giving them an advantage over Amazon. In analysts’ views, this makes those two retailers appealing investment picks. In the last few weeks, several research analysts have expressed their positive opinions of the two stocks.
Ira Boruchow, analyst at Wells Fargo, said, “Our quantitative gauge of investor sentiment shows that off-pricers continue to lead with Burlington Stores Inc., Ross Stores and TJX as the ‘most-loved’ retailers in our universe, likely given the greater uncertainty following Brexit.”
Ross Stores was added to the William Blair consumer near-term focus list on July 5. Ross Stores will report second-quarter earnings on August 18 and analyst Sharon Zackfia believes comp-store sales will meet or exceed her 2.5 percent estimate, which is already higher than the consensus of 2.1 percent. Zackfia added, “We also believe that EPS are also likely to meet or moderately exceed our 68 cents estimate, which is moderately ahead of the 67 cents consensus and the 64 cents to 67 cents guidance.”
Zackfia estimates consumer demand and merchandise margin trends remain strong. “We see upside potential to our estimate and consensus, particularly for 2016.”
Miller Tabak + Co. initiated coverage on Ross Stores with a “buy” rating on June 24 and a $66 price target. Analyst Rick Snyder said, “Off-price retailers utilize the retail productivity loop to drive traffic into stores and produce positive comps.” Snyder believes that Ross’ ability to drive traffic through its attractive merchandise obtained through opportunistic pricing will justify a higher price multiple on the stock.
On the same day, Snyder also started coverage on TJX with a “buy” rating and a $91 price target. He said TJX could compete with online sellers by offering fashionable, in-season merchandise at prices 20 to 60 percent below department store prices, which is driving store traffic. Snyder said, “We expect investors will continue to value TJX shares at a similar multiple for as long as the company continues its comp and margin performance.”
Zacks Investment Research upgraded TJX to “buy” from a “hold” this past week and gave it an $86 price target. “The company’s flexible business model is helping sustain the Brexit headwind by channelizing its funds in the right direction as and when required,” wrote the analysts. “The company has been making efforts to boost sales by aggressive store expansion and upgradation of the e-commerce business.”
Also this week, BMO Capital Markets reiterated its “outperform” rating and $85 price target on TJX. Analyst John Morris said the retailer is benefiting from strategic changes to product mix that is driving traffic, comparable store sales, and merchandise margin. He added, ”The company is still taking advantage of very strong vendor pricing and the buying teams believe this favorable environment will continue into the fall and likely beyond.”
According to Sleek Money, several large investors have added to their stakes of TJX within the past few quarters.
- Alecta Pensionsforsakring Omsesidigt purchased a new stake during the first quarter valued at about $941 million.
- Norges Bank purchased a new stake during the fourth quarter valued at about $427 million.
- Millennium Management LLC boosted its stake by 2,973.8 percent in the fourth quarter and now owns stock valued at $72 million.
- Credit Agricole inceased its stake, bringing its TJX holdings to $116 million.
TJX stock has increased by 14 percent over the past 12 months and was lately trading at $77.42, while Ross Stores is up 12 percent over the past year to lately trade at $56.74. Even with good performance over the past year, it seems Wall Street believes there is more value to come.