Shares of Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE: RL) have been trading in a relatively narrow range for much of the past eight years. That's not to say there haven't been many ups and downs in the meantime, because there have, but the reality is they're currently trading for the same price they were back in 2015. That's right around the $110 mark, a level they've crossed above or below at some point every year.
Notwithstanding the triple-digit rallies that have occurred, this kind of sideways action can be frustrating to watch for investors and tough to analyze for those of us on the sidelines. Identifying a clear trend on a stock's chart is crucial to forming an opinion on where it might go in the near to long term and basing a decision to get involved around that.
But it also means that certain stocks can fly under the radar, which means it can be easy to get in on the trend when a long-term opportunity does emerge. As we head into the year's final quarter, such a scenario is unfolding with Ralph Lauren and has been for the past few months.
Strong Performance This Year
Shares have been climbing higher since stopping a 40% slide last November, in a pattern defined by higher highs and lower lows. This has been supported by solid earnings reports and signs that the company's sales are accelerating across its key markets. This is worth noting for those of us considering adding some exposure to a consumer favorite ahead of the holiday season. It's starting to look more and more like the company has managed to navigate macro headwinds, which hurt so much last year.
Indeed, the team over at Raymond James just initiated coverage of Ralph Lauren stock with an Outperform rating, partly due to this. In a note to clients, they said that "Ralph Lauren has made big strides in recent years elevating its brand, right-sizing wholesale distribution, strengthening direct-to-consumer, and improving GM%," all steps they expect will improve margins in the coming quarters.
They gave the stock a fresh price target of $135, which implies a further upside of around 20% from where shares were trading on Tuesday. Were they to hit this in the coming weeks, they would once again be right up around the $140 level, where the bulls have consistently run out of steam.
When investors weigh the possibility of Ralph Lauren shares forming a long-term upward trend, this level must be firmly broken first and foremost. The good news is that the current pattern of higher lows points to the ever-increasing pressure on the bid and a constant source of buyers, which should lend itself to finally breaking the $140 level on one of the coming attempts.
In the meantime, investors getting involved will own a stock offering a decent dividend yield of 2.65% and easily outpaced the broader market. Ralph Lauren shares are currently up 40% since last November versus the 14% the benchmark S&P 500 index has tacked on. And even better, they still feel comparatively cheap.
Consider this: even though they’ve gained 40% since last November, their price-to-earnings (PE) ratio is still just 14. This screams good value when compared to, say, VF Corp (NYSE: VFC), which commands a PE ratio of 54 while also dealing with a share price that's dropped 50% since last November.
The stock also has seasonality in its favor. Shares of Ralph Lauren rallied hard throughout Q4 last year and in 2020 as well, gaining 25% and 50%, respectively. Coupled with the solid technical pattern that's been forming all year and underpinned by ever-improving fundamental performance, you get a sense that Ralph Lauren shares are just about sick of being range-bound. This is one to get excited about for readers who like a bargain with a strong risk/reward profile.