What's up with Ann Taylor (ANN)? Most retailers live and breathe for the Christmas holiday season - that's when they make most of their profits. The cash registers ring at the mall. Macy's (M), Nordstrom (JWN), Coach (COH), Lululemon (LULU), and Apple (AAPL) - they all have their best quarter at the end of the year. Not Ann. Check it out:
For the last 5 years, Ann averaged $1.03 a share a year in earnings while losing an average of $0.11 each fourth quarter. Excluding 2008, Ann has made less than an eighth of its year income from its fourth quarter.
The last time Ann had a "normal" fourth quarter was in 2005 when it earned $0.43, higher than any of that year's other quarters.
Crazy isn't it? Doesn't anyone buy Christmas presents at Ann anymore?
Don't get me wrong. I love this retailer. In fact, I have four Loft shopaholics in the family who help Ann's bottom line. Yet, I wasn't surprised Ann pre-announced that it would have another abysmal fourth quarter. Analysts are forecasting that Ann earns a teensy-weensy penny. Lousy Ann Christmases should be expected. It's becoming a tradition.
Why important? Ann has become a seasonal stock. For the last five years, from November to February, shares have swooned - only to rise from the dead each March. From March until October, Ann has made investors money in each of the last three years.
Imagine if Ann was able to generate profits for Christmas next year. Hope should never be part of the investor's equation. Until Ann gets its fourth quarter mojo back again, buy in March and sell in October. For now, Ann might consider closing shop from November through January: Its earnings would be just about the same.
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