Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Williams Sonoma Dividend Wisdom

Williams Sonoma (WSM) announces Q4 results and year end. I must be fixated on retailers lately or are they just he canary in the coal mine. Anyway the numbers are difficult to terrible. They announce a few initiatives to improve. With a lot of jargon and buzzwords they talk about inventory control and improving the catalogue operation. They plan on cutting expenses wherever possible. The margins narrowed as sales revenue dropped faster than expenses could be cut out. Hopefully on the way up revenues will rise faster than expenses.

The interesting strategy is their insistence on paying a dividend. The current cash position looks good and they can cut the cheque quite easily. The question becomes is the strategy of paying a dividend in difficult times properly aligned with whatever strategies will be needed to position for the future.

Williams Sonoma has cash which can be used to gain strategic advantage for the future. Many retailers and businesses can only dream of this luxury. Did investors buy this stock for dividend yield (probably not) or do they want to look to the future for growth. The question that is begged "Does the board have the necessary vision for the next cycle or are they just fiddling with today's details"