The Boohoo (LSE: BOO) share price fell an astonishing 66% in 2021. Today, I’ll take a closer look at what happened and why the market has seemingly fallen out of love with the fast-fashion giant.
It all started so well
Holders of this stock must have been being optimistic as they entered 2021. At the beginning of last year, the Boohoo share price was riding high at 340p.
An encouraging trading statement in January went some way to justifying this momentum. Strong growth across all its brands and geographies in the last third of 2020 was reported. Accordingly, the company raised its guidance on full-year revenue. News later in the month that Boohoo had snapped up a number of brands, including Debenhams, was also positively received.
In March (and facing a potential US import ban), Boohoo was once again forced to defend its supplier practices. The AIM-listed firm published a list of 78 approved manufacturers as part of its ‘Agenda for Change’ programme. After a slight dip, the share price duly recovered, helped by news of a new warehouse that would boost sales capacity to above £4bn.
The Boohoo share price starts to tumble
It’s at this point that cracks began to appear. Helped by the rise in online shopping over the pandemic, full-year results in early May showed a 41% jump in revenue to £1.75bn. A 37% rise in core earnings to £173.6m was also reported.
Away from the headline numbers however, Boohoo said the the benefits of reduced returns seen over the pandemic would now lessen, but higher costs were here to stay. The company’s decision to maintain guidance in June’s trading update (despite sales rising 32% in Q1) also pointed to management becoming increasingly cautious on the firm’s near-term outlook.
As the months passed, a significant minority of investors appeared to be growing frustrated with the company’s founders. No less than 12% of shareholders opposed the re-election of Carol Kane to the board. A statement that the online fashion retailer would be investing £500m in the UK over the next five years did little to appease owners.
The worst was yet to come. In September, the Boohoo share price fell sharply as it warned that previously-highlighted higher costs in its supply chain and higher wages for its workers would impact margins. This was followed by a lowering of full-year guidance in December’s (unexpected) trading statement. As expected, more clothes were being returned by customers. A serious slowdown in sales abroad, issues with deliveries, and ongoing cost inflation were also blamed. Omicron wasn’t helping matters.
Boohoo briefly became a penny stock when, in mid-December, the shares dipped to 97p. They had not been this low since September 2016. Perhaps the only crumb of comfort to holders was that industry peer ASOS was also ending the year firmly out of favour.
More news soon?
As things stand, analysts believe earnings per share will fall by 23% in the current financial year. This would leave Boohoo’s stock on a P/E of 20. Whether that proves to be a bargain for long-term investors remains to be seen.
Based on past form, the £1.5bn-cap may provide the market with another update on trading later this month. Should this be the case, The Motley Fool UK team will be on hand to update readers.