Not a day goes by that someone on the streets can’t be spotted wearing with pride a North Face fleece. Even in the early summer mornings, throwing on a North Face just seems like the proper thing to do in making that first run to Starbucks.
Surely, when catching a bout of the sniffles, the go-to article of clothing is not a $5 thermal from Walmart, it’s — you guessed it — that comfy, broken-in black North Face fleece. (Who buys the white ones anyway? Come on, that would require it be cleaned twice a month).
We are willing to bet our closet full of North Face gear that while reading up to this point, you think North Face is a mega company pumping out $175 form-fitting security blankets. Unfortunately, that thought, while easy to understand, couldn’t be further from the truth. But hey, that’s why Decoding Wall St. is here — to bring Wall Street to every single person who’s unaware that — gasp! — there is no North Face Inc. But we can help you decode whether the stock is a worthwhile investment.
The Decoded Truth on North Face
North Face is just a cog in the wheel of apparel manufacturing conglomerate VF Corp. (Sound Smart: stock symbol is VFC … tell that to the Macy’s store associate). This ultra-huge company sells jeans, fleeces, hats, backpacks and boots under a few brands that may ring a bell:
• 7 for All Mankind
• Timberland (bought in 2011)
Let’s not stop the decoding fun there on this superhuman company:
• VF Corp. produces 400 million units of merchandise a year.
• It churns out products for no fewer than 36 different brands.
• Some of you may have driven by a VF Corp. distribution facility (Sound Smart: “DC”) and not realized it. The company operates 30 of them.
• Don’t for a second think VF Corp.’s brands could only be purchased at Macy’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods. On the contrary, the company has over 1,050 retail stores selling brand specific merchandise (such as the Vans store in the local mall).
• Ever see a North Face advertisement in Men’s Health magazine? Of course you have, and so have others, as VF Corp. spent $540 million on advertising in 2011.
Now take these facts into the Tuesday-morning meeting with the boss to gain extra cool points! Seriously, though, the world of investing is all around us. By nature, we are afraid of the unknown, in this case buying stock in a company because doing so is a confusing process, the industry is so overwhelming, and there is the dreaded risk of losing money.
Oftentimes the best investment is right in front of us and all it takes to own a sliver of VF Corp. is about $160 (buys a single share) and the opening of a free stock trading account. That $160 ties you into a company that is delivering top-quality products that are spurring top quality financial results (your willingness to spend $175 on that black North Face fleece, which is never on a sale, is great news to VF Corp’s CFO … and potentially to your stock trading account).
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