Sock It to Me, Tumi

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Today's hot IPO isn't a blazing dot-com or even a maker of organic macaroni and cheese.

Shares of Tumi (NYS: TUMI) -- a seller of high-end luggage and travel accessories -- opened 44% higher at $26 this morning. Underwriters had priced the debutante at $18 last night.

There's plenty to like in Tumi. Net sales soared 31% to $330 million last year, and that was after climbing 29% higher in 2010. A healthy operating profit of $60.4 million translates into attractive operating margins of 18%.


Stylish suitcases and roomy handbags may not seem exciting, but Coach (NYS: COH) has been a high-end market winner for years. Vera Bradley (NAS: VRA) has risen by more than 70% since going public at $16 less than two years ago. The growth is there. Analysts see Coach and Vera Bradley growing their top lines by 15% and 18%, respectively, in their current fiscal years.

Nearly half of Tumi's sales come from its 100 stores located at shopping malls that cater to affluent shoppers and its outlet stores that draw the bargain seekers. Another 10% of Tumi's net sales -- up 55% over the past year -- come from Tumi's e-commerce initiatives. The other 42% of Tumi's business comes through third-party retailers that specialize in travel accessories.

Tumi's a strong performer at the retail level. Average sales per square foot have grown from $642 in 2005 to $972 in 2011. Taubman (NYS: TCO) -- claiming to be the "most productive" mall operator in the country -- saw its tenants record an average of just $641 in sales per square foot last year.

Tumi is obviously not at the Apple Store level of performance, but brisk sales will make it an attractive tenant to upscale shopping center landlords. It's therefore a good thing that Tumi plans to open eight to 16 stores a year over the next few years.

The catch here is if today's hot IPO is as expensive as some of its signature cases. With 67.9 million shares outstanding, Tumi is now a $1.7 billion company at this morning's open. At a time when the economy is showing signs of life and the travel industry is likely to follow, Tumi's future is bright -- even if the shares are no longer cheap.

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At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Coach. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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