Polo Ralph Lauren: Classic Style

Strong brands, well-off customers and an eye to future growth make this clothing company fashionable now -- and quite possibly later.

If you like thematic investing, you'll love Polo Ralph Lauren. The New York City-based apparel company embodies two themes that a growing body of stock pickers has embraced enthusiastically: It owns some of the world's great fashion brands, and it is a beneficiary of increasing global wealth, which means more and more people can pay up for fancy threads.

In recent years, Polo and its stock have been at their Sunday best. By the time Polo completes its fiscal year on March 30, annual sales will have climbed 62% over the past three years, to some $4.3 billion. Earnings will have doubled. The stock (symbol RL) has climbed more than five-fold since late 2002.

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Manuel Schiffres
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance