Mattress Firm Holding Corp (MFRM): A Trend to Watch in the Mattress Industry

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Earlier this week, when the Dow was lower by almost 200 points, Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM) was trading higher by almost 7%. The stock’s strong gains led to new 52-week highs and were possible due to earnings that beat expectations.

Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM)

In the quarter, Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM)’s revenue grew 31.5% or $276 million. The company slightly beat on both top and bottom lines and also reiterated full-year guidance. The company’s impressive growth reflects “incremental sales from new and acquired stores,” as 46 new stores were opened during the quarter and the company continues to integrate Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM) Giant stores into sales.

A not-so-good trend

At first glance, Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM)’s quarter looks like a home run. Even Piper Jaffray’s Peter Keith upped his price target to $48 from $40 citing “improved industry trends.” However, I am not sure how Keith arrived at his conclusion: The company’s comparable store sales actually declined by 5.2% year-over-year.

In various articles, I have explained that when assessing retail, comp sales are most pertinent as falling comps equal falling margins, which lead to inefficiency. When comp sales are rising, margins are expanding, it proves that more customers are coming into the stores. This was evident with Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM) as its operating margin fell 50 basis points to 8.6%, which is significantly lower than its 8.93% operating margin over the last 12 months.

In the quarterly report, Mattress Firm Holding Corp (NASDAQ:MFRM) stated that comps grew in May and that its acquisition of Mattress Giant is “looking good.” However, I don’t see this as a lasting trend. The company also cites falling unit prices for mattresses and weak consumer traffic. These areas of concern have led to declining comps, and are a definite reason for long-term concern.

Upside in the industry?

Due to declines in traffic, I would not touch Mattress Firm as an investment, but I also wouldn’t touch Tempur Sealy International Inc (NYSE:TPX)— and I’ll have to see about Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ:SCSS). Both stocks traded with nice intraday gains following Mattress Firm’s quarterly report – yet margins and consumer traffic remain an issue.

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