Athletic Wear Brand Hylete Now Raising $3.5 million in Shares; Eyes 2019 IPO
Lululemon has been turning heads this year.
Thanks largely to success in its e-commerce business, the athleisure brand has blown away even bullish estimates and triggered multiple rounds of analyst upgrades. Lululemon shares have doubled so far in 2018, handily outpacing the industry.
In turn, prudent investors may be worried it’s too late to own Lululemon. While the company likely has a bright future, its meteoric rise and eye-watering valuation suggest most of the real money has already been made.
That’s a good reason to consider shares of Hylete, a smaller rival founded in 2012 that produces a similar lineup of athletic apparel and gear for men and women. Hylete is also a pure e-commerce play, selling all of its merchandise directly to consumers rather than to other retailers.
Hylete is considering an initial public offering in 2019. But before that, investors can take part in a Regulation A+ offering of $3.5 million in new shares that’s open to the public with a minimum investment of $525. Prior to this offering, Hylete already turned many customers into investors, raising over $8 million from six separate crowdfunding campaigns. The investment portal, which uses technology from WealthForge, can be reached here.
One major appeal for investors is Hylete’s track record. The company has proven it can expand quickly, posting annualized revenue growth of over 50% over the last five years. (Details are in company’s investor presentation available here). It has also shown a capacity for growth through acquisitions of niche rivals such as Gracedbygrit, a female-focused company it bought earlier this year.
One secret to Hylete’s success that should herald more growth is its unusual strategy for planning new designs. As we highlighted in this recent report, the company frequently pitches new designs to customers and allows them to order in advance at a discounted price. If a particular item doesn’t get enough support in advance, Hylete doesn’t produce it.
Such a calculated approach to design and inventory investment should help Hylete drive revenue – but also achieve profitability with limited risk. The company’s gross margin expanded to its current 54% from 48% in 2014.
Soon, that should translate into real earnings. Indeed, the company expects to be Ebitda positive next year. Once that happens and the company pays off its $5.625 million in debt, it expects to post a net income margin of 10%.
What does that mean for profits? Looking ahead and taking the midpoint of Hylete’s revenue targets, the company should earn net income of $2.4 million in 2020 and $3.4 million in 2021. Based on the offering price in the current deal, the company is valued at 23.7 times 2020 earnings and 16.7 times 2021 earnings.
Lululemon, meanwhile, commands much richer multiples. The larger company’s shares trade at about 31 times 2020 consensus earnings and 27 times 2021 consensus earnings. And Lululemon’s growth, while impressive, is a fraction of Hylete’s.
Of course, Hylete is growing from a much smaller base, so superior rates of expansion are to be expected. But it’s important to remember that Lululemon generated only 23% of sales from e-commerce last quarter, while Hylete is an e-commerce pure play.
Not only is e-commerce a better source of revenue growth, but it’s also a better way to earn profits. As we explained in this recent report, Lululemon’s gross margins are far higher online than in its stores, where it incurs significant rent and labor expenses.
There are always risks to consider with growth-stage companies like Hylete. But it has shown a patient approach to fundraising rather than rush into an IPO and has a unique strategy for merchandise development to avoid strategic missteps. With investors smitten by Lululemon’s e-commerce business, it would be a mistake to overlook its digital cousin Hylete.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief