JB Hi-Fi (JBH) is a chain of electrical stores, selling leading brands of hi-fi, speakers, televisions, DVDs, cameras, car sound, home theatre, computers, white goods, portable audio and a variety of music, games and movies.
The company has been able to grow its sales over the last 5 years in what can only be described as one of the most difficult trading conditions for retailers in over 20 years.
JBH’s strategies for growth are simple: increase the number of stores, increase sales, and through that, increase profit.
JBH’s expansion is not only in the Australian market, but also in New Zealand. Since entering the New Zealand market in early 2007, it has opened 14 stores.
JBH’s 1H13 results impressed on several fronts. Sales for the six months to December 31 were $1.81 billion, up 3.1% on the prior corresponding half.
Net profit was $82.1 million, up 3% on the 1H12 result. The group also declared an interim dividend of 50 cents per share, fully franked. This equates to a solid yield of around 6.5% at current prices.
Perhaps the most surprising number released by JBH was its gross margin, which rose by 28 basis points. This number is made even more impressive when it is compared to competitor, Harvey Norman, whose gross margin dropped 260 basis points over the same period.
The operating environment for the retail sectors has been subdued over the last few years, but this appears to be abating. The latest release of the Westpac Consumer Sentiment survey, showed the consumer sentiment index rising 2% to 110.5 in February.
It is the highest level the index has reached since the end of 2010. A reading above 100 indicates that more consumers are optimistic about the economy rather than pessimistic, with the index having been in the positive territory for the past five months.
There are likely a few reasons for the uplift, with the RBA cutting the cash rate to 1.75% between November 2011 and December 2012, probably the key reason.
JBH’s 1H13 results showed sales growth and more importantly, expanding margins. While these expanding margins initially helped the company’s profitability, they will be more significant when industry wide sales growth return to trend.
Retail sales figures in January already have hinted of such a return, with an increase of 0.9% from December. Confirming these retail numbers, JBH noted that its sales climbed 11.7% during January (4.2% like-for-like sales growth).
With the consumer sentiment reading at all-time highs and sales growth starting the year off with such a strong number, we see a solid result ahead for JBH, which should translate to further share price appreciation.
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