Investment Lessons From Stein Mart, Inc.’s Fall

When I reviewed Stein Mart’s business model in recent years, I was unimpressed on both quantitative and qualitative grounds. Quantitatively, I thought it was embarrassingly poor that Stein Mart only managed to earn $27 million in net profits at its cyclical high over the past five years. For a company with 300 stores that consume gobs of square feet, a net profit figure of only $80,000-$85,000 was terribly insufficient.

And the above-referenced numbers refer to Stein Mart’s 2016 highs. When Stein Mart’s profits evaporated and turned to an $11 million loss this year, it was clear that the business model was seriously defunct.

That is where the qualitative aspect comes in—the retailer sells a mish-mash of overpriced consumer clothing to an undefined market segment. The website is just bizarre. There are $24 Stein Mart dresses next to much more expensive options. This type of pricing completely ignores the psychology that … Read the rest of this article!