Consumer Products

Why JPMorgan Favors Nike Over Lululemon Now

After the markets have finally climbed to be positive for the year, investors are starting to breathe easier and are looking to put their cash back in the market. One key analyst has its eyes set on the apparel industry. with perhaps one of the world’s biggest brands at the forefront.

In a recent report, JPMorgan added athletic apparel and footwear giant Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) to its Analyst Focus list, saying concerns about inventory and gross margin issues are largely unwarranted. At the same time, JPMorgan removed Lululemon Atheletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) from the Analyst Focus list.

Despite having a phenomenal year thus far, many analysts are predicting that Lululemon will take a backseat to Nike. Lululemon’s stock is up 19% year to date, but this run could be over in part due to concerns over profit margin contraction. Nike is on the other end of this, with the stock up only 1% year to date.

JPMorgan has an Overweight rating for Nike and raised its price target to $72 from $67. What makes this analyst call particularly interesting is that it is coming just before an earnings report. A couple other analysts weighed in at this time as well. B. Riley reiterated a Buy rating with a $73.50 price target, and Sterne Agee CRT reiterated a Buy rating with a $75 price target.

Overall things are looking up for Nike, but analysts took a slightly differnt perspective on Lululemon, despite its first quarter performance. MKM Partners reiterated a Buy rating with a $69 price target. Recently, Macquarie even reiterated a Sell rating with a $39 price target.

Nike is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned subsidiaries include Converse, which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories, and Hurley International, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories.

Lululemon had a very solid February. This company designs, manufactures and distributes athletic apparel and accessories for women, men and female youth. It operates through two segments, Corporate-Owned Stores and Direct to Consumer. The company offers pants, shorts, tops and jackets for healthy lifestyle activities and athletic pursuits, such as yoga, running and general fitness, as well as dance-inspired apparel for female youth. It also provides fitness-related accessories, including bags, socks, underwear, yoga mats and water bottles.

Shares of Nike were trading up almost 2% at $64.22 on Monday, with a consensus analyst price target of $71.09 and a 52-week trading range of $47.25 to $68.19.

Lululemon shares were down about 2.5% at $60.94, with a consensus price target of $60.19 and a 52-week range of $43.14 to $70.00.