Shorts Pile on Ahead of Gap Earnings Report

GPS is slated to release earnings on Nov. 23

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The Gap, Inc. (NYSE:GPS) is an American specialty apparel company offering clothing and accessories under the Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta brands. GPS' products are available for purchase worldwide through company-operated stores, franchise stores, and e-commerce sites. This afternoon, GPS is up 0.6% at $24.24.

On Nov. 10, The Gap announced that its board of directors has authorized a fourth-quarter dividend of $0.12 per share, payable on or after Jan. 26 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 5. The Gap currently offers a forward dividend of $0.48 with a dividend yield of 1.94%. GPS is also scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Wall Street analysts have Gap’s earnings coming in at $0.50 per share for this upcoming earnings report.

The Gap stock is flat year-over-year and has shed 35% since peaking at a nearly six-year high of $37.63 in mid-May. However, shares of GPS have grown 12% year-to-date and have climbed 26% from its 52-week low of $19.10 hit in early January.

From a fundamental point of view, Gap stock doesn’t provide the greatest consistency with its top and bottom line growth, but GPS does offer an intriguing valuation. Gap stock trades at a price-earnings ratio of 12.19 and a price-sales ratio of 0.54, which are both very attractive values given the retailer's almost $9 billion market cap. In addition, GPS has a forward price-earnings ratio of 10.13.

Shorts have been piling on the clothing giant, with short interest up 69% in the past two reporting periods alone. This accounts for 16% of the stock's total available float, or just under a week's worth of pent-up buying power.

Gap has a relatively weak balance sheet with $7.36 billion in total debt and $2.71 billion in cash. Overall, Gap stock has potential as a short-term play due to its great valuation, but presents itself as high-risk investment for long-term investors due to its shaky fundamentals.

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