- A "keen grasp of fashion" and strong execution have made the stocks of Canada Goose, Lululemon and Urban Outfitters stellar investments, CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
- The "Mad Money" host tracks each stock's recovery and explains what makes it a winner.
"When you look at the best-performing apparel plays, you see two things," the "Mad Money" host said. "There are the companies that have figured out how to compete on the web with a workable omni-channel strategy, as they call it, and, more important, there are the ones with the best understanding of what the consumer wants."
Luxury winterwear maker Canada Goose, famous for the ubiquitous red patch on its fur-lined parkas, has seen its stock soar since its initial public offering.
Cramer recommended buying shares of Canada Goose the day it came public. A few months later, he told investors to ring the register on part of their gains after a 175 percent rally.
"Nobody ever got hurt taking a profit, but I definitely made a mistake here: I was too skeptical of a great story," he admitted. "At that time, the stock was trading at $44. Two weeks later, the company reported one of the great [earnings] blowouts and the darned thing surged to new highs — it’s now trading at nearly $64. So, mea culpa."
But at its current levels —$63.60 a share as of Tuesday's close — Cramer thought the stock looked quite attractive. He liked the company's transition from wholesale to a direct-to-consumer business model, and he was impressed by Canada Goose's latest earnings results, which painted it as more than just a winter-focused retailer.
"In short, these guys know exactly what they're doing," the "Mad Money" host said. "I’m just glad the stock has pulled back from its recent highs so you can pick up some Canada Goose into weakness."
Cramer was also impressed by the 64 percent year-to-date gain in shares of athleisure chain Lululemon. The company has been without a CEO since former chief Laurent Potdevin resigned after disclosing that he had a relationship with an employee.
But "that doesn't seem to matter, as Lulu keeps knocking it out of the park because consumers absolutely adore their merchandise," Cramer said. "The stock was trading at $77 when Potdevin resigned in early February. Now it’s at $129. Why? Because even without a CEO, Lululemon’s been able to report two blowout quarters in a row."
Lululemon's strength has come from a combination of its skyrocketing e-commerce business, healthy brick-and-mortar sales and dearth of new products, Cramer said.
The one issue he saw? Lululemon's stock is costly, trading at 35 times next year's earnings estimates.
"I don’t like to chase, but I would definitely put this one on your shopping list and pick some up the next time we get a market-wide pullback," the "Mad Money" host advised.
Then there's Urban Outfitters, which Cramer admitted "looked like roadkill" just one year ago. But since shares of the Anthropologie and Free People parent started to recover, the stock hasn't looked back, rallying to $45.92 as of Tuesday's close.
To Cramer, Urban Outfitters' comeback was more about secular trends: the economic backdrop has improved lately, consumers can spend more and certain fashions that the company specializes in have come back into style.
"Even after this move, Urban Outfitters trades at only 17 times next year’s earnings estimates," he noted. "I’d be a buyer right here, although I’d like to buy some more into weakness."
Cramer's bottom line? A better backdrop for the retailers may benefit the whole cohort, but some plays — especially the ones that focus on understanding the consumer — will benefit a lot more.
"Canada Goose, Lululemon and Urban Outfitters all have a keen grasp of fashion, and that, along with their terrific execution, [has] made them winners," he said. "Wait for pullbacks in Canada Goose and Lulu, although I do sanction some Canada Goose buying, and Urban Outfitters? Buy it right here."