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3 Women-Led Companies to Own for Value, Quality, and Cash Flow

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It doesn’t matter if the company CEO is a man or a woman if they provide value to the business and investors. The CEOs of the women-led companies on this list do just that. They are respected leaders and team-builders who know their business, their markets, and how to provide value to their shareholders. The value is seen in the quality of the businesses, businesses able to withstand all market conditions, and the quality of the balance sheets, which are fortress-quality and can sustain dividends, share repurchases, and reinvestment. The takeaway for investors is that these stocks are worth owning—bottom line. 

Williams-Sonoma: Laura Alber Takes Stock to New Highs

Laura Alber took the helm of Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) in 2010, taking the business to new heights. The business leaned into eCommerce in the early portion of her tenure, which set it up for today’s omnichannel success. The 2023 and 2024 results include a contraction in the top-line results due to the tough comps to prior years, comps driven by stimulus spending and social distancing, but margin improvement is the story for investors. The company is proving its brand strength and pricing power by delivering a margin at the high end of the target range, well above consensus, and guiding for strength to continue. Growth should resume for this high-class retailer by the end of the fiscal year and begin to accelerate next. 

Williams-Sonoma’s end-of-quarter balance sheet highlights include a 4X increase in cash, reduced inventory, reduced liability, no significant debt, and a 50% increase in shareholder equity. The cash flow and balance sheet allow for a substantial capital return of $107 million in Q3. The dividend annualizes to 1.5% and is less than 25% of the earnings; share repurchases more than double the effective yield and reduce the count by 2% on average. Repurchases are significant to shareholders because they reduced the count by 2% in 2022 and are on track to do so again in 2024. 

The analysts' consensus price target lags behind the WSM market, but the trend leads the market to a new high. Following the Q1 release, the analyst's activity includes several boosted price targets to the high end of the range near $350.

Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler Knows Her Business 

Ross Stores (NASDAQ: ROST) CEO Barbara Rentler began with the company in 1986 and worked her way into the C-suite over the next three decades. She’s been CEO since 2014, more than doubling the business in that time. Today, Ross Stores is among America's leading off-price value retailers and is still growing. The Q1 release includes industry-leading growth and margin expansion to fuel a robust cash flow. Cash flow is relatively unencumbered, and leverage is low at 0.3X equity, providing plenty to return to investors. The capital return includes the dividend, worth about 1.05%, and share repurchases, forecasted to shave about 2% off of the count this year. 

Analysts liked what they saw in the Q1 results and issued enough price target revisions to keep the stock on Marketbeat’s Most Upgraded Stock list. The revisions are leading the consensus estimate higher, up 35% in the last 12 months, and the most recent revisions are in the range’s high end. A move to those levels is worth another 10% to 12% of upside and puts the stock well above its current all-time high. 

Advanced Micro Devices: Lisa Su Advancing Technology, AI and All

Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD) is a headline-making company because its CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, is a visionary leader. She came on board in 2012 and streamlined the entire operation, setting it up for success that is still unfolding. The latest news is that there are plans for the next-generation AI chips to be launched in 2026. Called “Next,” the platform is built on a new architecture that will follow the upcoming release of MI325X (an enhancement on the MI300) and the MI350 in 2025. The Next platform is expected to generate 35X more computing power than the current models, among the most advanced chips on the market. 

Advanced Micro Devices doesn’t pay dividends or buy back shares but doesn’t need to. The company delivers value by generating significant free cash flow and reinvesting it into the business. The balance sheet highlights an ample cash position and low leverage. The company is net-cash relative to long-term debt, and leverage is below 0.5X cash and 0.03X equity, leaving it in fortress condition. 

The analysts' activity was slightly mixed in Q2, with a few notable price target reductions. Still, the takeaway is that 30 analysts rate this stock at Moderate Buy, the rating is firm, and the price target is increasing. The consensus price target assumes a 12% upside from $162.50, is up 100% in the last 12 months, and most fresh targets are well above it. 

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