Lululemon shares jump after Citi says Amazon fears are ‘overblown’


Lululemon will be one of few retail brands that can survive the Amazon onslaught, according to one Wall Street firm.

Citi Research raised its rating for the company’s shares to buy from neutral, predicting Lululemon will report earnings above expectations this year.

The call sent the stock up 2.3 percent in Friday’s premarket session.

“We believe recent mkt concerns (Amazon, denim, weather) are overblown, and we believe current levels represent an attractive entry point for one of the best performing brands (and long term growth stories) in all of retail,” analyst Paul Lejuez wrote in a note to clients Friday.

“We have more confidence in both the near and long term trajectory of the brand and its growth potential based on our discussions with mgmt.”

Lululemon stock has underperformed the market year to date with its shares down 7.5 percent through Thursday, compared with the S&P 500’s 14.4 percent return.

The analyst raised his price target for the company’s shares to $73 from $62, representing 21.5 percent upside from Thursday’s close.

Lejuez downplayed the threat from Amazon due to Lululemon’s strong brand and competitive position.

“We believe the stock has recently come under some pressure due to stories of Amazon developing an activewear line,” he wrote. “While Amazon’s efforts are never anything to brush aside, we believe Lululemon would be one of the last companies impacted. We believe Amazon would be more of a threat to the younger, less-established brands that have not build a loyal customer base.”

The analyst cited Lululemon’s 29 percent e-commerce sales growth in its second-quarter. He also noted the company’s large expansion opportunities in Asia.

“We believe Lululemon has tremendous potential to grow in Greater China,” he wrote. “China has become a clear focus for management and we believe this momentum in China cannot be ignored.”

Lejuez raised his fiscal 2017 earnings-per-share estimate for Lululemon to $2.45 from $2.41 compared to the Wall Street consensus of $2.41.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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