There is something exhilarating about short term trading. I love watching the cents tick up or down over a few hours, deciding at which second to get in or out, and (hopefully) ending the day with a chunk of change. That said, any Warren Buffett disciple will tell you that it’s not the most intelligent strategy for long term wealth growth. So I am trying to focus more of my money on long term value plays while still leaving aside some playing cash for short term trades.
One company I have my eye on for this long term value investment is Luxottica Group (LUX). Luxottica is the world’s biggest eyewear company, which owns brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Persol and controls retail stores LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut. The company controls a staggering 80% of the world’s major eyewear brands.
Oh, and you know all those designer sunglasses from Chanel, Prada, and Burberry you shell out hundreds of dollars for? Turns out those are just licensed from the designers and made by this company. (I know, I’m disappointed too.)
What makes the company so brilliant though is its masterful use of vertical integration. Not only does the company manufacture almost every pair of sunglasses you would want to buy, it also owns almost all of the stores you buy them in! So essentially, the entire end-to-end of the glasses market is owned by this one company. And owning the whole market means you have quite the flexibility in what prices and margins you command.
Unsurprisingly, the company’s financials are rock solid. The company reported 2nd quarter earnings in July and sales were up 7% over the prior year. Even more impressive, net income was up 15% for the second quarter and free cash flow was at an all-time high. Their biggest concern is an unfavorable exchange rate (not even a big deal). Their price to earnings ratio is at the upper end of retail but reasonable at around 34.
This company’s business model commands a buy on its own. But ideally, you’d like to invest in a company with growth potential on top of its solid present state. Good news is, Luxottica is that type of company. Back in March, Google (GOOG) announced a strategic partnership with Luxottica to create “innovative iconic wearable devices.” In other words, Luxottica will design, develop and distribute new versions of Google’s Web-connected eyewear.
There hasn’t been too much to report since the partnership was announced by my hunch is that recent market developments will spur action between the two in the near future. Designer wearables are now hitting the market, with Tory Burch designing Fitbit covers and Diane von Furstenberg designed Google glasses sold on net-a-porter. And I think the Apple iWatch hype ramping up will force Google to step up its wearables presence.
Luxottica’s current business model, combined with potential market expansion from its Google partnership, make it a solid buy choice for me. I don’t currently own shares but plan to buy in very soon.