VF Corporation (VFC) Stock Analysis

Introduction:

VF Corporation the largest publicly held apparel company in the world is known more by its brands Wrangler and Lee Jeans in Jeanswear, Red Kap and Bulwark Protective Apparel in Imagewear, JanSport and Eastpak in Outdoor, etc. Their merchandise is available at department stores as well as at their own branded retail stores. Mass-market brand acquisition has tailored the company’s growth:
  • Getting hold of H.D. Lee Company (Lee Jeans) in 1969,
  • Buying Blue Bell Incorporated (Wrangler and JanSport) in 1986 thereby doubling the size of the company.
  • Purchasing North Face in 2000 to shift focus towards higher margin lifestyle brands.
A series of restructurings happened in the early 2000s – brutal for US employees as the end result was a string of plant closures, layoffs by the thousands, and relocating production to less expensive areas of the world such as Mexico, Central America, and the Far East. The company returned to its focus on lifestyle brands recently by gaining brands like ‘Seven for all Mankind’ and Lucy Activewear.

VF Corporation’s diverse brands stack up as follows:


  • Outdoor and Action Sports: This is the largest coalition at 38% of overall revenue and includes brands like Eastpak, JanSport, Kipling, Napapirijri, The North Face, Reef, Vans, and Eagle Creek.
  • Jeanswear: Jeanswear accounts for 35% of the company’s revenue and the popular brands are Wrangler, Lee, Riders, Rustler, Chic, 20X, and Maverick.
  • Imagewear (Uniforms): Imagewear rakes in about 12% of the revenue with brands like Red Kap, The Force (Horace Small), Bulwark Protective Apparel, Chef Designs, and Majestic Athletic.
  • Contemporary Brands: Contemporary Brands is responsible for 7% of the revenue with brands like Seven for all Mankind, John Varvatos, Ella Moss, and Splendid.
  • Sportswear: Sportswear handles 7% of revenue and primarily consists of the Nautica brand.
  • Other: 1%
VF Corporation also has diverse sales channels with revenue distribution as follows:



International: 27%.
Specialty Stores: 18%
Retail (includes International retail): 17%
Mass: 15%
Royalties/Other: 10%
Chains: 7%
Upscale Department Stores: 3%
Mainline Department Stores: 3%

Business Issues:

VF Corporation plans to aggressively grow its international business and in the last five years that business unit grew from 23% to 31% of their overall business. International sales are projected to reach 40% of overall sales in the next five years. The plan to achieve this is by keeping operating margins healthy in the mid-teens range banking on consumer spending cranking up in China and India. This has a practical ring as long as US is mired in the early recovery stages of the economy but should US snap out of recession and consumer spending ramp up this will be hard to attain, especially should buyer enthusiasm recede in China and India. This worst-case scenario is realistic as economists predict a credit bubble in parts of Asia and US economy making strides towards recovery.

Acquisition is a major growth strategy for the company. Fashion, which is capricious at best, dictates clothing demands that consumers cannot but be fickle. For this precise reason, brand purchases carry associated risks. Still, the respectable compounded annual growth rates since acquisitions for respective brands is a testimony to VF Corp’s track record of successful acquisitions. There have been some duds too - Nautica is one such washout and the company is yet to make that brand work since its acquisition in 2003. Management has to exercise due diligence with brand name acquisitions to contain this risk.

To curb operational costs and translate it into increasing profitability, the company relocated its entire supply chain overseas. With that, VFC became a company whose expenses are entrenched in emerging market currencies but whose revenue is garnered largely from mature markets. If emerging market currencies appreciate when judged against mature market currency, the company will lose ground for the costs will tick upwards and revenues dip simultaneously. Growing business in the emerging markets can downplay the risk. Other threats with its supply chain include the company’s vulnerability to the actions of the concerned government, labor laws, etc.

A core element of VFC’s international growth strategy is to open direct product retail stores in the emerging markets. Although 17% of the company’s revenue comes from its own retail stores, truth is retail outlets are a tough business – competition is intense with a host of stores (specialty, department stores, and chains) all catering to the same customer – adding further fuel is the disadvantage that most of the competition are pure retail plays and hence inherently much more focused.

Diversification in brands, sourcing, and selling implies the impending risk of VF Corp spreading themselves too thin. Management deserves acknowledgment for acquiring what is considered core assets to drive their strategy while divesting non-core assets – over the last ten years, the figures are at around $3.9B in revenues from acquisitions and about $1.3B in revenues from divesting. Going forward, keen focus on core areas in brands, sourcing, and selling are key to containing this risk factor.

Finances:

Below is a table that summarizes VF Corp’s financial position:


Year2007200820092010
Revenue7.14B7.56B7.14B 7.62B
Net Earnings591M603M461M571M
Shares Outstanding110M110M110M108M
Earnings per Share (Normalized – one-time items removed)5.415.424.906.58
YOY Earnings Growth14.38%0.1%(9.60%)34.3%
YOY Revenue Growth16.33%5.89%(5.53%)6.7%
Net Profit Margin8.19%7.89%6.38%7.49%

The retail industry took a nosedive in the last two years and VF Corp’s finances reflect the impact – revenue plunged to the mid-single digit range while earnings had an almost double-digit skid in 2009. Despite this, cash flow from operations was almost strapping $1B as gross margin increased in the last year. Management deserves accolade for soundly managing costs, inventory levels, and pricing.

Quantitative Rating:

Below is a spreadsheet showing our quantitative rating summary of VF Corp. (click for an understanding of the ratings on this spreadsheet):



  • VFC scores 6.25/10 on its ability to beat inflation: Return on Equity and Free Cash Flow are both well above average while Net Margin is below average. PEG ratio, a measure of valuation is rich at 1.27.
  • Corporate abuse rating drags at 0/10 as their executive compensation is egregious: The CEO makes around $5.77M, over 200 times the average worker.
  • Income generation and liquidity measure is almost perfect at 9.33/10. The company pays a reasonable 3% dividend. The stock is also option-able and very very liquid.
  • Volatility ranking is also almost perfect at 9/10: Beta is at market while Debt to Equity Ratio is good at just 0.25.
  • Capacity to increase dividends fetched 6.67: VFC grew earnings in four of the five previous years but earnings went down in 2009. The payout ratio is good at 46 – company has room to increase dividends. The company has very good 5-year average dividend growth. As earnings declined sharply in 2009, the company scored a 0 for our 5-year average earnings growth number, which brought our Capacity to Increase Dividends number down to 6.67 that is respectable but not outstanding.

The overall quantitative rating or the ‘OFB Factor’ came in at 6.31/10, which is above average.

Summary:

VF Corporation managed its business fairly well during the recessionary environment of the last few years and emerged with an enterprise value of $10.41B and a forward PE of 13.71. Although both revenue and net income plunged during the period, through diligent cost control and inventory management the company managed to generate outstanding cash flow. Going forward, the strategy is to invest heavily in emerging market opportunities, which though risky has high rewards potential.

The company has a PEG ratio of 1.56, which indicates valuation is relatively high. Our quantitative analysis showed the company as having an ‘Above Average’ rating. Considering these matrix and the risk factors, we recommend adding this company to your watch list and consider purchase when the stock gets cheaper and clarity materialize regarding the business issues we highlighted.




Hong Kong - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China in Eastern Asia bordered by the South China Sea, and China has a total land area of 426 square miles and a population of over 7 million. Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated places of the world, is described as where the “East meets West”. It has a very modernized way of life with traditional Chinese practices. Due to its limited land area the city has grown vertically and is able to offer recreational and competitive sport opportunities to its citizens. It is ranked highly for economic freedom, quality of life, highly developed transportation network etc. Hong Kong is rated laissez-faire capitalism where the government has a hands-off role in the economy, with little industrial policy and almost no import or export controls.

Travel Resources:

October through December are the best time to visit Hong Kong. With its expansive skyline and a deep harbor Hong Kong has its share of attractions. Victoria Peak, Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront, Stanley, Central District and Repulse Bay are a few among them. Hong Kong's cuisine is also a fusion of east and west where dim sum, hot pot, and fast food restaurants coexist in harmony with haute cuisine.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Hong Kong and Macau978-1741792256$15Covers Guangzhou. Has Chinese characters in map keys making navigation easy. Over 300 pages covering Hong Kong and around 50 pages for Macau. Good info on hiking trails.
Hong Kong Insight Fleximap978-9812583727$9Laminated. 1:16,500 scale. Recommended Sights.
All-in-One Travel Power Plug AdapterB000YN01X4$4

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Hong Kong were a set of seven stamps released on December 8, 1862 in The Queen Victoria (QV) theme. The set (Scott #1 to #7) is very rare. Each stamp in the set catalog for between $500 and $4000 Mint and between $60 and $500 Used. The same design was reused in another set of seventeen stamps released between 1863 and 1880. That set is also very rare and the 96c blister (Scott #23) is the most sought after Hong Kong stamp cataloging for close to $50K Mint. Another extremely rare issue is the 1874 issue in the same theme (Scott #25) which catalog for around $14K Mint. The QV theme continued in a different design in 1874 with the release of a set of three stamps. That was a high-value set with denominations ranging from $2 to $10. That set (Scott #26 to #28) is also very rare with the highest value cataloging in the $8K range Mint. Surcharge overprints and certain other varieties formed the stamp issues of Hong Kong until the turn of the century. Following the Chinese defeat in the Opium Wars (1839 and 1860), the territory of Hong Kong including the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutter’s Island was ceded to Britain. In 1898, the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory established a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands.

Hong Kong released a set of fifteen stamps in 1903 in the King Edward VII theme. That set (Scott #71 to #85) along with a long running (1904 to 1911) set (Scott #86 to #108) are both expensive cataloging in the $3K range for Mint and $2K range for Used. Certain King George V (KGV) key types followed in 1914 and those along with some common design types were the primary stamp issues of Hong Kong till 1938. A long running King George VI (KGVI) theme appeared in 1938 and continued through 1946. In the interim a revenue stamp with a 5c numeric design was officially authorized to be used for postal purpose. That stamp (Scott #167) catalog for around $80 MNH and around $20 Used on cover.

Other issues of Hong Kong enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of six stamps released on February 26, 1941 to mark the centenary of British rule. The set (Scott #168 to #173) catalogs for around $100 MNH and around $20 Used. The designs show KGVI head portrait along with the following central design themes: Street Scene, Hong Kong Bank, Liner and Junk, University of Hong Kong, Harbor, and China Clipper and Seaplane. Hong Kong was a free British trading port at the time. The territory was invaded by Japan on 8th December 1941. United Kingdom resumed control of the territory after the war in 1945.
  2. A stamp released on March 30, 1967 to mark the completion of the Hong Kong-Malaysia link of the South East Asia Commonwealth Cable, SEACOM. The stamp (Scott #236) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $5 Used. The design shows an Outline of Telephone with Map of South East Asia and Australia. SEACOM is a telephone cable that linked Hong Kong with Malaysia and Northeastern Australia through undersea cable. Another stamp in the technological progress theme was the Radar, Globe, and Satellite issue of September 24, 1969 to mark the opening of the satellite earth station on Stanley Peninsula, Hong Kong. The stamp (Scott #252) catalogs for around $25 MNH and $5 Used.
  3. A set of four stamps released on March 14, 1983 showing Hong Kong Views by Night theme. The set (Scott #415 to #418) catalogs for around $25 MNH and $10 Used. The designs show Victoria Harbor, Space Museum, Chinese New Year Fireworks, and Jumbo Restaurant. There are over 7,500 skyscrapers in the Hong Kong skyline that puts the city at the top of world rankings.
  4. A set of four stamps released on January 23, 1990 to mark the Lunar New Year (Year of the Horse). The set (Scott #560 to #563) catalogs for around $10 MNH and $7 Used.  Hong Kong has released stamps for every Lunar New Year from 1967 onwards. The theme is pretty collectible.

Numismatic Profile:

The first coin of Hong Kong was a British Colonial Bronze Mil issued in 1863. The issue has very high mintage (19M) but still catalogs for over $100 UNC and $400 for the Proof. The variety issued in 1864 is rare and catalogs well into the 1000s. Special Administration Region (S.A.R.) Decimal Coinage started in 1997 with the issue of a 10 cent Brass Plated Steel Coin. The design shows Bauhinia Flower in Obverse and Sailing Junk in Reverse. The issue is common and catalogs for less than a dollar in BU. Hong Kong has issued gold coins from 1975, the most collectible of which is a set of One Thousand Dollar Gold Coins and Proofs released between 1976 and 1987 themed on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Numismatic items of Hong Kong include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs start around $1. Silver Coins from the 19th century in XF start around $10. 1997 Colored Euro Dragons starts around $75. Holed Mils from the mid-nineteenth century, Trade Dollars from the late nineteenth century in UNC, etc starts around $100. Gold coins go well into the 100s. Lunar Year Proof sets go well into the 1000s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. High Values from the 60s and 70s in UNC starts around $20. ZZ Replacements in UNC, Rare Dates, Low Numbers, etc starts around $75. Bundles and Early Large Notes go into the 100s. Uncut 1997 QE issues, Rare Specimens from the 1970s, etc go into the 1000s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

It is a cinch that almost all who visit Hong Kong will splurge in either a well-tailored suit or some sort of an electronic gadget. Tea, spices, and china are other items visitors tend to buy.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$15 and upSmall enamel vases and decorative bowls start around $15. Vintage hurricane glass metal lanterns start around $30. 18th century maps, opium merchant original documents, etc start in the 100s.
Antiques$5 and upRecent posters, canvas print post art etc start around $5. Vintage British travel posters start around $25. Original paintings from artists such as Alexander Chen, Thomas Mak Kon Kln, Marcel Mouly, Chan Kau On, etc start in the 100s and go into the 1000s.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

GRE Exam Prep Books and Resources – ISBNs and Best Prices

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is a generic, standardized test administered by the non-profit Educational Testing Service (ETS). This exam, conducted by qualified testing centers, is unrelated to any particular field of study and aims to measure verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. There is a computer delivered test offered year-round at Prometric test centers and on specific dates outside of that network. In certain areas, paper-based test is the only option and is offered up to three times a year. The base fee is $205. Miscellaneous fees at $25 to $60 each can further increase the cost – every service is fee based which includes Additional Score Reports ($27 per recipient), Late Registration ($25), Score reviews ($50 to $60 depending on the test area), etc. On the upside, their website offers free study resources and materials. GRE is a necessary step for most students aspiring to pursue graduate education in the US although the level of emphasis placed on GRE scores fluctuate widely between schools and individual departments.

The computer delivered GRE has six sections with a ten-minute break after the third section (a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes). The structure follows:



The paper delivered GRE has six sections with a ten-minute break after the second section (a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes). The structure follows:


ScoreSelect (send only your best scores to schools) is a standard feature with all GRE tests.

Below are ISBNs and best prices of study resources for the GRE General Test:


ResourceFormat/Media OptionsBest PriceDescription
The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test
  • Kindle Edition at $18.47.
  • Paperback: 978-0071791236 at $11.55.
$11.554 practice tests with detailed explanations. Proven strategies direct from the test maker. Simulated computer-based test experience with PowerPrep II Software.
Official GRE Super Power Pack by Educational Testing Service
  • Kindle Edition at $39.99
  • Paperback: 978-0071841818 at $42.23.
$39.99The bundle by ETS consists of the official guide and the two practice questions books (quantitative and verbal) in a value pack.
GRE Premier with 6 Practice Tests: Book+Online+DVD+Mobile by Kaplan$19.242,200+ practice questions, 20 online quizzes, and 120+ minutes of video tutorials. Instant online analysis and feedback. In-depth practice and review.
5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems - Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides
  • Kindle Edition at $9.99
  • Paperback: 978-1941234518  at $12.18.
$9.992,000+ practice problems with step-by-step explanations. 1,400+ vocabulary words and idioms, Math and Verbal diagnostic tests.
Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy GuidesPaperback: 978-1937707910 at $75$75The set includes Strategy Guides for Algebra, Fractions, Decimals, & Percents, Geometry, Number Properties, Word Problems, Quantitative Comparisons & Data Interpretation, Reading Comprehension & Essays, and Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence. Also includes one year of access to 6 Manhattan Prep online section-adaptive GRE exams.
500 Essential Words: GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards by Manhattan Prep
  • Kindle Edition at $8.99
  • Cards: 860-1400011591 at $12.26.
$8.99First in a 2-volume set. The second volume "500 Advanced Words:...".  The series also has 500-flash card sets on Math and other areas.
Official GRE Practice Questions
  • Kindle Edition (Quantitative) at $11.49
  • Kindle Edition (Verbal) at $11.49
  • Paperback (Quantitative) at $13.49
  • Paperback (Verbal) at $13.25.
NAAn authoritative overview along with ETS's own test-taking strategies. 150 real GRE questions and answer explanations.
Cracking the GRE by Princeton Review
  • Kindle Edition at $15.99
  • Paperback: 978-0804126045 at $14.53.
$14.532 full-length practice tests with answer explanations in the book and 2 online. Section-wise Drills & Questions on Verbal, Math, and Writing.
Kaplan GRE Exam Vocabulary in a Box
  • Paperback: 978-1607140528 at $3
  • Cards at $7.
$3500 flash cards, sample sentences for context, and synoyms and pronunciation key.
Essential Words for the GRE by Barron’s
  • Kindle Edition at $10.49
  • Paperback: 978-1438002217 at $14.15.
$10.49800 college and graduate level words. Definitions, context, and drills to help practice. Chapter on word root analysis. Pre-test and Post-test.
Nova’s GRE Math Prep Course
  • Kindle Edition at $9.94
  • Paperback: 978-1889057590 at $10.67.
$9.94Comprehensive Review, 164 examples and more than 600 exercises, diagnostic test that measures strengths and weaknesses, and Duals (pairs of similar problems with only one property different).

There are also seven GRE Subject Tests in the following areas: Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. Testing fee for each subject test is $150. They are 2-hours and 50-minutes tests (no separately timed sections). As with the general test, their website offers free study resources and materials.

Below are ISBNs and best prices of study resources for the GRE Subject Test:


ResourceFormat/Media OptionsBest PriceDescription
GRE Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology PrepVariesVariesNA
Kaplan GRE Subject Test: Biology978-1419550003$14Terminology definitions in context, practice quizzes, answers explanations, and proven score-raising strategies.
GRE: Practicing to Take the Chemistry Test by Educational Testing Service978-0446396165$25ETS book. Practice questions and ful-length practice tests that were administered previously.
Cracking the GRE Chemistry Test by Princeton Review978-0375764899$14Review material followed by one full-length practice exam with complete explanations.
Cracking the GRE Literature in English Subject Test by Princeton Review978-0375429712$13Complete review, strategies, and a full-length practice test.
Cracking the GRE Mathematics Subject Test by Princeton Review978-0375429729$13Review material plus full-length practice test.
Conquering the Physics GRE by Yoni Kahn and Adam Anderson978-1479274635$42.12One of the best review books for the standardized tests.
Kaplan GRE Exam Subject Test: Psychology978-1419550447$25Two full-length practice tests. 2010-2011 Edition.

Note: The GRE Computer Science subject test was discontinued following the April 2013 administration. Existing scores are still reportable for five years.





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 Last Updated: 04/2017.

TOEFL Exam Prep Books & Resources - Books, ISBNs and Best Prices

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS) is the universally accepted test for evaluating the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. More than 9,000 colleges and universities across the world require or recommend the test when non-native English speakers seek admission for their program. Most graduate admission programs require the same test – with many requiring a high score for this test for part-time positions in the school such as Teaching Assistant-ships.

The good news for students seeking resources for preparing for this exam is that several websites offer free training resources. None are officially approved by the ETS as they are also in the business of offering training resources and naturally endorse their material. ETS also offers free sample questions and downloads at their site.

The TOEFL test is offered in an internet-based format called TOEFL iBT™. A paper-based format called TOEFL PBT is being phased out and so is only available in areas where testing via the Internet is not available. Online registration is possible with either test (credit or debit card required). The primary difference between the two formats is that the iBT has a speaking section while the PBT does not. iBT has between 30 and 40 test dates annually and the cost is upwards of US $190. On the other hand, PBT is only offered six times a year and the cost is US $170.

TOEFL iBT™ test consist of four sections (listening, reading, speaking, and writing). It takes about 4.5 hours to complete including check-in. Below is the format:



Below is a list of the most popular books and other media available to study for the test:


ResourceISBNList PriceBest Online PriceComments
The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBTVariesVariesOfficial guide book released by the testing service (ETS).
The Official Tests to the TOEFL iBTVariesVaries5 Real TOEFL tests with answer keys. Audio for all test listening sections.
Kaplan TOEFL iBT Premier with Practice Tests 978-1625233417$35$234 practice tests. Book, CD, Online, and Mobile.
Cracking the TOEFL iBT by Princeton Review978-0804125987$35$20Full-length simulated iBT test with answer explanations. 39 additional practice drills.
Barron’s TOEFL iBt VariesVariesAudio-CDs and CD-Rom.Seven model tests with explanations.
Barron’s Practice Exercises for the TOEFL 978-1438075471$35$25 More than 1,000 practice questions with explanatory answers, as well as example essays and speaking responses.
Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL TestVariesVariesFive complete practice tests. 1450+ test questions with pop-up explanations. Complete language skills instructions.
McGraw Hill’s 400 Must-Have Words for the TOEFLVariesVariesExample sentences, usage tips, and commonly used parts of speech. Reading with exercises with each chapter.
Perfect Phrases for the TOEFL Speaking and Writing SectionsVariesVariesHundreds of ready-to-use phrases to increase your conversational ability.
TOEFL Prep for Spanish Speakers: An Advanced Grammar Course for pre-iBT, ITP, & PBT TOEFL and English Teacher Training978-1442123472$26$22For Native Spanish Speakers.




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Last Updated: 04/2017.



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