Will OrotonGroup Limited surprise this earnings season?

Earnings season is in full-swing with most companies meeting or beating market expectations so far. Clear trends have emerged from the companies that have reported to date, such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) demonstrating the financial industry continues to face headwinds.

The miners continue to do it tough as well, with Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) revealing that only deep cost-cuts and a reprieve to commodity prices during the first-half of 2016 softened the blow.

On the flip side, companies leveraged to housing construction and housing-related spends such as James Hardie Industries Plc (ASX: JHX) and JB Hi Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) appear to be experiencing a purple-patch of sales, as a construction boom and low interest rates fuel consumer spending.

A sector, which in my opinion, remains under-priced amidst the earning updates is non-housing related discretionary retail. OrotonGroup Limited (ASX: ORL) is my top pick in this space.

Here’s why.

The consumer sector

The S&P/ASX 200 Consumer Discretionary Index (ASX: XJD) is fickle as changes to consumer confidence have a pronounced effect on its performance. With constituents comprising the likes of Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV), Breville Group Ltd (ASX: BRG) and Myer Holdings Ltd (ASX: MYR), it’s easy to see why this sector is captive to sentiment.

Nevertheless, with interest rates at record lows, discretionary retail spending is growing as consumers are willing to spend at stores which provide the right product mix at the right price. South African owned David Jones and Harvey Norman Holdings Limited’s (ASX: HVN) most recent results can attest to this fact, with both revealing same-store sales growth. A feature which was missing from results for many years.

Accordingly, I believe investors can benefit from this sector in the current economic climate by picking stocks which provide a unique customer offering (at competitive prices).

Why OrotonGroup?

OrotonGroup is strictly not part of the Consumer Discretionary Index on account of its market capitalisation (as it’s not big enough for ASX 200 Index). Despite this, OrotonGroup is firmly focused on the consumer discretionary thematic, with its namesake luxury label punching above its weight to achieve double digit like-for-like sales growth in the first six months of 2016.

The 11% growth in Oroton brand sales was driven by management’s initiative to position the brand as true affordable luxury and by its foray into international markets.

Impressively, management’s performance didn’t stop there with the Board revealing an increase to earnings (EBITDA) of 25% and a net cash position of $2 million for the first half.


Although these interim numbers were boosted by one-off items (such as the exit of OrotonGroup’s Brooks Brothers joint-venture), comparative results from competitors David Jones and Premier Investments indicate the consumer discretionary sector remains robust.

Therefore, with OrotonGroup anticipating positive like-for-like sales growth for full-year 2016 (FY16), it remains one retail stock to watch, in my opinion.

Foolish takeaway

OrotonGroup has not provided a trading update since reporting half-year results in March this year, meaning investors are buying today without an update on its last six months of trade for FY16.

Nonetheless, with the company forecasting like-for-like sales growth and reporting a 73% uptick in net profit after tax for the first half (and providing no negative news), I believe OrotonGroup should do well when it reports in mid-September, making it a buy today.

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Motley Fool contributor Rachit Dudhwala owns shares of OrotonGroup Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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