Climate Change Chic

AnnaLisa is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

When a young friend of mine interested in both fashion and the stock market asked what courses she should take for a science requirement, I told her meteorology was the course to take if not to choose as a minor. Climate change is changing what's chic.

Most of the fashion industry's seasonal shows and trends are based on the weather of 1920's Paris with its four seasons. The last 20 years have been changing that for designers and retailers, and those who can't grasp the trend will be gasping for air. Several large retailers like Kohl's and Target have been consulting meteorologists for some time as they determine inventory. Warmer weather year round has been the story with longer springs and summers and shorter falls and winters to make layering and lighter all-temperature fabrics de rigeur.

Uggs Losing Traction

Which stocks are likely to benefit and which are likely to tank (not tank top)? Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ: DECK) has seen a year long decline as its Ugg boots have lost traction (pun intended), with analysts predicting sales slowing every time the weather is unseasonably warm. But the fact of the matter is that what was once unseasonable is now seasonable, if you follow my drift.

While Ugg boots are still widely available and were featured on Amazon's Zappos and Victoria's Secret websites this holiday season, Deckers is not the hot stock it once was and might never be again. The commodity costs of sheepskin, the many copycat brands both of equal and inferior quality, and warmer weather trends year after year are conspiring to kick Deckers to the curb.

Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser has been the "axe" on this name, the one the Street listens to about Deckers. Few analysts have had as much effect on a stock's share price as Poser. For the the last year his opinions have taken it from its all time high in the $120's in Fall 2011 to this year's low of $28.57. Just a week ago, he suddenly came out with bullish comments indicating that "the worst is over for the Uggs brand," and it soared 8%. News reports also stated that Uggs was the most searched brand on the Internet this holiday season.

While Deckers now has a more sustainable P/E of 9.33, a stock whose market sentiment is this dependent on one analyst and the weather is not one that long investors should entertain.

A Cold Day Indoors

Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ: COLM) is another name quite dependent on colder weather with its outdoor themed clothing and accessories. It also has a major competitor in Patagonia, a privately owned outdoor clothing company, as well as L.L. Bean.

Columbia may also suffer as the years go on from what I've dubbed the "climate controlled couch potato syndrome" in which we leave our indoor environments for such short bursts of time that dressing up in Arctic parkas just isn't necessary. Our needs to go out in the fresh air have been overtaken by the accessibility of online delivery, socializing, and entertainment. Not an editorial opinion, just a trend that bears close watching. More and more adults are having to take vitamin D supplements because they're just not getting the minimum 20 minutes in the sun daily anymore.

With an 18.26 P/E and a 1.70% yield, there's not much to recommend the stock. Many investors buy this in the fall expecting big winter sales numbers. The stock is less than 5% from its price target of $55.64, and analysts expect a growth rate of 13.35% per annum over the next five years. Debt is not burdensome at 10.2 million in total debt to 96.29 million in total cash. However, a long term hold in this name doesn't have enough yield to offset its P/E, and there are certainly other retailers that are better value names and/or growth names.

Climate Control Clothing

Under Armour (NYSE: UA) is the go-to name for climate control clothing with thin comfortable layers for both heat and cold. I like the name better than Nike in this space, as it is the pioneer. It's not quite the mo-mo name it once was, but unlike Deckers its apparel and shoes are by no means a fad and are also much more difficult to copycat.

The P/E is higher than Columbia Sportswear at 44.95, but it offers apparel that can be worn year round. With Nike running after earnings, Under Armour should also report good numbers on Jan. 21.

Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ: LULU) is a name I've preferred to both Nike and Under Armour for some time. It too offers wicking technology and just debuted some of their most innovative fabric technology products this holiday season. They have been vigorously defending their fabric technology patents and designs. If any company is aware and ahead of the climate change curve it will be Lululemon. In addition, when it comes to indoor physical fitness, their yoga attire is the favored brand of many yoga professionals and their students.

Lululemon's P/E is barely higher than Under Armour at 45.87. Analysts expects a 29.71% growth rate over the next five years compared to Under Armour's 21.37% growth rate. The main reason I prefer Lululemon to Under Armour is that Lululemon is still at a level where it has many, many more opportunities to open in new markets.

Fast Forward to Fashion Future

According to a British Fashion Futures white paper detailing fashion scenarios for the year 2025 (an all encompassing treatise with figures on resource usage, carbon footprint, economic buying power and sociological trends), the future of fashion may be radically different, with fabric technology and climate change being major factors designers and manufacturers will have to address. Being fashion forward will no longer encompass which color is the new black but which clothes have built in solar cells and which are the most sustainable and comfortable for year round wear in a drastically different meteorological climate. Under Armour and Lululemon are the companies most likely to be around in 2025 and thriving.

 

 


leglamp has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Under Armour. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Lululemon Athletica and Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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