Ahead of the Bell: Lululemon Athletica

Lululemon climbs in premarket as 2nd-quarter results top analysts' expectations

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Lululemon Athletica Inc.'s stock climbed before the market open on Friday as the Canadian yoga clothing maker's second-quarter results beat Wall Street's expectations.

Late Thursday Lululemon reported earnings of 39 cents per share on revenue of $344.5 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 35 cents per share on revenue of $343.9 million.

The company also reported that revenue at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer's health, increased 8 percent. This figure excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Edward Yruma, an analyst for KeyBanc Capital Markets, said in a client note that while the chain experienced some slower growth in the quarter, its performance was still strong. The analyst said that LuLulemon is contending with economic pressures facing others in the industry, but that its efforts to reinforce product innovation and quality should help to drive long-term growth.

Yruma is also upbeat on the company's international expansion, saying plans for 13 international showrooms will give LuLulemon the chance to gather information on sizing and color preferences of shoppers before it broadens overseas.

The analyst reaffirmed a "Buy" rating and $82 price target.

Sterne, Agee & Leach analyst Sam Poser is taking a more cautious approach, saying that late product deliveries may ease by the end of the year but that consistent execution has not yet been proven.

"The longer the product issues last, the more Lululemon is opening the doors for competitors," he wrote.

The analyst also feels that Lululemon needs to hire a new CEO that is sensitive to the company's distinct culture in order to keep customers loyal. But he believes it could be months before a CEO is in place.

Lululemon announced in June that CEO Christine Day planned to leave. Day said she would stay with the company until a successor was named.

Poser maintained a "Neutral" rating.

Lululemon does not comment on analyst reports.

Shares of Lululemon rose 71 cents to $66 in premarket trading about 45 minutes ahead of the market opening.

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