Friday File — Brands, Hospitals and the Yuan

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, August 16, 2015

A few relatively brief things for you today — updates on the flailing ICON and the high-yield MPW, and a few thoughts on “macro” panics in the market.

First, the ugly — checking in on Iconix (ICON), which I last looked at a few months ago. The stock has gotten cut in half just since then (and fallen further still since I first wrote about it in April). What’s going on with this speculation?

Well, the SEC is working with them to see if they should have consolidated the results of their foreign joint ventures last year, and the CEO (and founder) resigned (following the resignation of the CFO a few months earlier that got people nervous), and the the interim CEO has lowered guidance for the year — so boom, stock craters. So we have both real reasons (lower earnings and cash flow expectations for the year) and fear-based reasons (did all those C-suite people resign because something ugly is happening under the hood, or just because they wanted to or, perhaps, thought the business was weakening).

If you don’t know ICON, this is a brand company — they own mostly fashion brands for men and women, along with a few housewares brands, often brands related to or started by celebrities to monetize their fame by selling sparkly dresses or jeans at Wal-Mart or Kohl’s but also some higher-fashion brands, some athletic brands (Umbro and Pony and Starter and Danskin) and a few entertainment brands, primarily the Peanuts gang (and, new this year, Strawberry Shortcake). They aren’t cutting edge fashion brands, and they’re not generally high-growth products (other, perhaps, than Peanuts this year), but many of their brands have been proven to have pretty consistent cash flow as big box stores look to differentiate their fashion offerings.

If you came to this story anew today, without the baggage (like the kind I carry) of knowing that the stock was in the $30s three months ago, you’d probably be at least a little bit interested — at least, if you’re tempted by cheap stocks with potential catalysts. The company has cut guidance, though some of that is because of their expectations shifting for the Peanuts movie this fall and moving some of that expected revenue to 2016 (mostly because of international release dates — the movie won’t come out in every country at the same ...

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