The three-day ICR Conference in Orlando, Fla., begins Monday with presentations from more than 150 private and public companies specifically in apparel, retail and food businesses. Leading Wall Street investment bankers will attend as companies look for bankers and bankers look for places to put their money. Analysts are also expecting to hear more pre-announcements from the companies that will be appearing.
The first day of presentations will be by private companies with a heavy dose of online retailers like Justfab.com, RuMe.com and Lyst.com. Rebecca Minkoff, Steven Alan and Ashley Stewart will also make presentations Monday.
Wedbush analyst Morry Brown wrote last Tuesday that he expected Francesca’s to raise its guidance at the conference, but the company did that on Thursday. Brown also has expectations from Express when it presents on Tuesday, where he “sees room for a margin-driven raise with same-store sales likely tracking at the high end of plus-low, single-digit guidance.”
When it comes to Lululemon, which is presenting on Tuesday, Brown wrote that he “believes comps are tracking at or above the high end of plus midsingle-digit guidance, with margin rates likely tracking in line with expectations.” Lululemon is slowly coming back into favor with analysts as upgrades begin to trickle in and the stock is already up 19 percent in the past month.
L Brands, which said holiday sales rose 9 percent over last year, will be at the conference on Wednesday. Brown expects that the lingerie company will raise guidance, but noted that L Brands tends to give conservative guidance.
Sharon Zackfia, analyst at William Blair, said she goes to the conference with an open mind, but ready to zero in on the topics the companies end up addressing. She believes investors will be focused on brand differentiation, pricing power and company stability. “Apparel’s been deflationary. How do you drive pricing power? If you’re not luxury or athletic, investors want to know how you’ll get prices up,” said Zackfia. She also wants to hear how apparel firms and retailers plan to motivate shoppers to add to their closets.
Another William Blair analyst, Amy Noblin, said she wants to get a real sense of what is weighing on her companies including Francesca’s, Urban Outfitters and Tumi. She said she’ll be focused on inventory management, rationalizing square footage and where companies stand with their channel migration.