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Jefferies upgrades Ulta to buy, says strong earnings are the ‘all clear’ for a recovery

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A strong quarterly report is the start of a solid recovery for Ulta Beaty , according to investment firm Jefferies. On Thursday, Ulta blew away estimates for the first quarter, generating $6.30 in adjusted earnings per share on $2.35 billion of revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting $4.46 in earnings per share on $2.12 billion of revenue. The company’s guidance also topped expectations. Analyst Stephanie Wissink upgraded the beauty stock to buy from hold, saying that a strong first-quarter report served as a signal for investors that a rebound is in full swing. “Ulta Was the Unexpected Rebalancing Winner, Sounds The ‘All Clear’ on Makeup That We Needed To Hear: With now ~45% of Ulta’s biz tied to make-up (vs. 50%+ prepandemic), we had been waiting on the ‘all clear’ suggesting demand had returned to prepandemic levels with improving & sustained momentum,” Wissink wrote. Retail companies as a whole have had a mixed earnings season, but make-up appears to be one of the strongest areas of the sector after Ulta’s report. “The importance of make-up cannot be understated as it’s the highest velocity category in beauty and that inflection gives us greater confidence in sustained engagement & momentum into 2H,” Wissink wrote. Jefferies hiked its price target on Ulta to $475 per share from $400. The new target is more than 25% above where the stock closed on Thursday. Shares of Ulta were down roughly 8% year to date before the earnings report. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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