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Now that most of the retail industry's earnings reports have been filed, CNBC's Jim Cramer found it worth reviewing the quarterly results from some of the top names in apparel to see which ones won out in recent months.
Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors parent Capri Holdings and Columbia Sportswear took the top spots in his book after surprising to the upside, with Columbia delivering "the single best quarter of any of these companies," Cramer said. Coach parent Tapestry, on the other hand, issued results that he called "downright ugly," and Canada Goose's were a bit too complicated for him to recommend buying the winterwear maker's shares.
"We now have a much better idea of which apparel stocks will work, will rock, in 2019, which is why I want to walk you through them, one by one, [and] offer some color commentary," Cramer said Wednesday on "Mad Money."
He began with Ralph Lauren, which reported an acceleration in North American sales and raised its full-year forecast on top of its estimate beat. CEO Patrice Louvet, who joined the company in 2017, has a five-year plan to reinvigorate the business by leveraging digital outlets and social media to market and sell products directly to consumers.
"Unlike some other five-year plans I could mention — Stalin's, Mao's — this one actually seems to be resonating with the consumer," Cramer said. "During the quarter, the company boosted its marketing investments by 18 percent, an ever-larger portion, of course, of that money going to the web where it can do the most good. And it's working."
The "Mad Money" host noted that a third of the people who bought products from Ralph Lauren's holiday gift campaign were new customers, many of whom were under the age of 35 — a key demographic for the old-line brand.
"Not only is Ralph Lauren putting up awesome numbers, they're doing it in places where you might have expected business to be, let's say, soft," Cramer added, noting that the "quintessentially American brand" had nearly 40 percent sales growth, on a constant currency basis, in mainland China.
"I think Patrice Louvet's doing a great job. Ralph Lauren himself still has a tremendous amount of cache," he said. "The two are working together and the stock is a buy."
Capri Holdings, the company formerly known as Michael Kors that now houses shoemaker Jimmy Choo and luxe brand Versace, also had a turn of fate, reporting much better-than-expected results for its most recent quarter.
"At these levels, Capri['s stock] trades at just nine times this year's earnings, and that's a steal," Cramer said. "The company's holding its annual investor day this summer and I expect [CEO John] Idol will tell a fabulous story about the future — I recommend picking some up before then."
Columbia Sportswear "knocked it out of the park" with its results, too, with revenues up 16 percent since this quarter last year. Cramer liked the company's focus on selling its utilitarian products directly to consumers and getting endorsements from key influencers.
"While the stock isn't exactly cheap here, ... I think it's a buy into any weakness," he said.
Tapestry, however, may have been "the biggest fashion faux pas" of the quarter, the "Mad Money" host said. The parent of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman missed Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates and cut its full-year forecast.
"Every time it seems like CEO Victor Luis has gotten the business back on track, the story gets derailed again," Cramer lamented. "Luis, a total straight shooter, ... admitted that he had disappointed people, especially the numbers from Kate Spade, although he also cited an increasingly volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical backdrop as the culprit."
He added that it's difficult not to see Tapestry's results as "an indictment" of the company's $2.4 billion acquisition of Kate Spade. So, for Cramer, Tapestry's stock "needs to be spending some time in the penalty box."
Winterwear maker Canada Goose's results were a bit more complicated, with strong revenue growth but muted full-year guidance. Cramer argued that the company behind the ubiquitous red patch was simply "being conservative."
The results are in, and Cramer thinks it's best to keep your investing straightforward: go with the winners, steer clear of the losers, and keep your powder dry when it comes to the battleground that is the stock of Canada Goose.