Merrill Lynch’s Take on Lululemon Athletica inc. (LULU) in Wake of 2Q Results

Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) posted second-quarter earnings last Thursday with a weak revenue performance that have sent shares plunging almost 11% nearly. On the heels of investors urging to sell shares for the athletic apparel giant before it’s too late, Merrill Lynch analyst Rafe Jadrosich joins the bearish party.

Jadrosich reiterates an Underperform rating on LULU, but in light of account higher sector multiples chooses to raise the price target from $50 to $52, which still represents a 24% downside from where the shares last closed. Additionally, the analyst also slightly raises his EPS estimate for the fiscal year of 2016 from $2.08 to $2.09, with the intention of reflecting “a stronger F2H GM outlook.”

The athletic giant retailer’s adjusted second-quarter EPS of $0.38 mirrors Jadrosich’s forecast. However, though FX-neutral same-store sales rose 5.0%, they still fall below the analyst’s projection of 5.2%. Issues arise with tough comps that the analyst believes suffered “from the anniversary of an online warehouse sale last year.” Though gross margin outperformed expectations on the wave of lower markdowns, it is unfortunately offset by earlier investments that led to SG&A deleverage.

From Jadrosich’s perspective, “Management commented that traffic headwinds continued into early F3Q. We continue to see risk that F2H16 same-store sales could fall at the low end of mid-single digits. Comparisons turn tougher in F2H as lululemon has to anniversary: a successful introduction of the pant wall (September), select price increases in women’s pants, acceleration in Men’s, and improved conversion on higher in-store inventory levels and promotions (now forecast inventory to grow slower than forward sales).”

Ultimately, “We continue to see risk to F2H16 consensus estimates and an unfavorable risk/reward with shares trading at roughly 32X our F2017E EPS,” he concludes.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, four-star analyst Rafe Jadrosich is ranked #1,030 out of 4,147 analysts. Jadrosich has a 73% success rate and realizes 10.5% in his annual returns. When recommending LULU, Jadrosich earns 0.6% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate LULU as a Buy. Based on 22 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 13 rate a Buy on LULU, 6 maintain a Hold, while 3 issue a Sell. The consensus price target stands at $73.05, marking a nearly 7% upside from where the stock is currently trading.Screen Shot 09-06-16 at 02.12 PM


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