Is Boohoo.Com plc a better retail pick than Topps Tiles plc?

Online fashion giant Boohoo.Com (LSE: BOO) continued to stride higher in Tuesday trade after furnishing the market with a fresh set of bubbly financials.

The stock was last dealing 2% higher from Monday’s close just shy of 150p per share, a fresh record high.  Boohoo has risen an eye-watering 300% during the past year, and I reckon the retailer’s exceptional sales momentum leaves room for further share price strength.

It advised that total revenues leapt 55% during the four months to December 31, to £114.3m. And this suggests a recent pick-up in shopper appetite — by comparison sales during the 10 months to New Year’s Eve rose by a still-impressive 47%.

This strong performance prompted Boohoo to upgrade its sales targets in the year to February 2017. Growth of between 43% and 45% is now expected (excluding the December acquisition of smaller peer PrettyLittleThing), up from a prior target of 38% to 42%.

Shopper demand in its core UK market — responsible for around 56% of group revenues — shot 33% higher during the period to December 31.

But the strong performance reported at home was overshadowed by Boohoo’s excellent progress in foreign climes. A storming 230% rise in the US grabbed the headlines, while growth of 63% in Europe and 66% in the rest of the world were none-too-shoddy, either.

The exceptional progress the business is making across the globe makes it a hot growth pick, irrespective of rising pressures on British shoppers’ wallets in the months ahead as the Brexit saga continues.

City brokers certainly expect earnings to keep chugging higher, and the bottom line is anticipated to soar 69% and 25% in fiscal 2017 and 2018 respectively.

While these forecasts produce large P/E ratios of 77.8 times and 62.2 times, I expect Boohoo’s earnings multiples to keep toppling further out as sales keep lifting off.

On the floor

Flooring giant Topps Tiles (LSE: TPT), by contrast, hasn’t commanded the same kind of reverence following its latest trading update on Tuesday. The stock was last 1% lower on the day and perching precariously above recent three-year lows.

The Cheadle-based business advised that it had witnessed “softer trading conditions” during the 13 weeks to December 31, with like-for-like sales edging just 0.3% higher in the period. This represents a marked slowdown from the 1.4% advance enjoyed during the prior three months.

The City expects Topps Tiles to record a 4% earnings advance in the year to September 2017, resulting in a conventionally-cheap P/E ratio of 9.3 times. At face value this would suggest the risks facing the stock are more than priced-in at current share levels.

I’m not so convinced however, and believe current earnings estimates could be in line for crushing downgrades as retail conditions in the UK remain broadly under pressure this year and possibly beyond.

I therefore believe that shrewd stock pickers should give Topps Tiles short shrift at the present time.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.