The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Guess, Iconix Brand Group, Nike, Hanesbrands and Joes Jeans

CHICAGO, May 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Guess? Inc. (NYSE: GES), Iconix Brand Group Inc (Nasdaq: ICON), Nike, Inc. (NYSE: NKE), Hanesbrands Inc (NYSE: HBI) and Joes Jeans Inc (Nasdaq: JOEZ).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Guess?: Will It Beat or Miss Earnings?

Guess? Inc. (NYSE: GES) is set to report its first-quarter fiscal 2014 results on May 30. In the last quarter, the company posted a positive earnings surprise of 10.5%. Let's see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors This Past Quarter

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, the company's earnings of 95 cents were at the higher end of the company's guidance range of 85 cents to 95 cents, but were lower than the year-ago quarter by 9.5%, primarily due to lower consumer demand and currency headwinds. Weak business in the licensing segment was also a dampener.

Moreover, management hinted that international losses could increase due to higher costs related to incremental marketing expenses. Macroeconomic headwinds are also expected to adversely affect comps during the first quarter. Promotional expenses in North America, currency headwinds and lower mix of royalties are expected to restrict earnings in the future.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Guess? is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Negative Zacks ESP:  That is because the Most Accurate Estimate stands at 6 cents while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is lower at 8 cents. That is a difference of -25.00%.

Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Guess? currently holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) which lowers the predictive power of ESP because the Zacks Rank #4 when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into  earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Iconix Acquires Ecko Brands

Clothing brand licensing company Iconix Brand Group Inc (Nasdaq: ICON) has acquired the remaining 49% interest in IP Holdings Unltd LLC ("IPHU") for $45 million in cash. IP Holding, through its subsidiary, manufactures and markets fashion and lifestyle products in the United States and internationally and owns brands such as Ecko Unltd. and Marc Ecko Cut & Sew. Iconix had previously acquired a 51% stake in IP Holdings Unltd LLC in 2009.

Marc Ecko Enterprises will continue to remain the core apparel licensee for the brands. In addition, the sellers will no longer be obligated to pay about $52 million in IP Holdings debt.

Besides acquisition of the Ecko portfolio of brands, New York-based Iconix has made a number of accretive acquisitions in the recent past, which helped the company deliver solid first quarter results and an upbeat guidance. Iconix first quarter 2013 earnings of 54 cents per share beat last year's result by 26% and the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5.9%. Iconix's revenues in the quarter surged 19% year over year and also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4%. Following solid first quarter 2013 earnings, Iconix raised its 2013 adjusted earnings guidance to $2.10–$2.20 per share from the previously announced range of $2.05–$2.15 per share.

Iconix successfully completed three acquisitions in the past five months. In late-Feb 2013, Iconix acquired the renowned lifestyle brand Lee Cooper, which includes multiple lifestyle categories including men's and women's casual wear, footwear and accessories. In early-Feb 2013, Iconix formed a joint venture with Buffalo International ULC to acquire a 51% interest in the latter's Buffalo David Bitton brand and expand its retail footprint in the U.S. and Canada. In early-Dec 2012, Iconix acquired the renowned football brand Umbro from Nike, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) to further strengthen its portfolio with an iconic brand that focuses on the fashion, athletics, electronics, entertainment and home industries.

We remain impressed with Iconix's strategic acquisitions and consistent expansion of licensing agreements. Iconix expects to explore additional opportunities and enhance its portfolio with more iconic brands in the upcoming quarters. Iconix expects to deliver over 20% revenue and earnings per share growth for 2013. Iconix holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Other Stocks to Consider

Other stocks in the consumer discretionary sector that are performing well and are therefore worth considering include Hanesbrands Inc (NYSE: HBI) which holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and Joes Jeans Inc (Nasdaq: JOEZ) which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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