Fossil Group (NASDAQ:FOSL) is the fourth-largest producer of watches and the largest licenser of watches and jewelry globally. Fossil’s stock was weighed down by concerns surrounding watch category growth globally and lowered 2015 guidance, particularly in the watch category. In the US this is being driven by sluggish foot traffic in malls and department stores coupled with broad based de-stocking by Fossil’s wholesale partners, as they remain cautious around smartwatches and an uncertain consumer environment. We view these as cyclical not secular headwinds. Additionally, Fossil experienced weakness as their largest licensed brand, Michael Kors, reported a material deceleration in their North American business. In the future, Fossil will have less exposure to individual brands as they add licensed brands to their portfolio, including recent additions Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Ralph Lauren’s Chaps. In the most recent quarter, management postponed share repurchase for 12 months in conjunction with their acquisition of Misfit, a wearable products developer.
Fossil Group Investors view Fossil’s acquisition of Misfit as an action driven out of necessity; conversely, we think management saw an opportunity to participate (and accelerate progress) in a large and rapidly growing, connected accessories space. While we would have preferred a joint venture with Misfit and continued share repurchase at extremely attractive prices, the stock fell substantially more than the decline of our valuation, creating an even more compelling investment opportunity. Continue Reading »