Consumer purchasing comprises almost 70% of the gross domestic product calculation. With a rising stock market and home values increasing, consumers are feeling better in 2013 than they have felt in years. This improved outlook may very well lead to increased sales figures at retailers around the country.
The retail/specialty store analysts at Jefferies are about as bullish as a Wall Street firm can be when it comes to their outlook on the sector. They remain extremely positive on the group as a whole, and think retail stocks are still headed upwards on a multiyear run, driven by four leading indicators:
- Lean inventories in the retail environment
- Upside to margins with raw material prices falling
- The previously mentioned improving consumer sentiment
- Retailers poised to embark on a significant acceleration in free cash flow
With these positive catalysts falling into place, Jefferies has a solid group of retailing stocks to buy.
Deckers Outdoor Corp. (NASDAQ: DECK) is the absolute top pick to buy. With its popular outdoor clothing to the extremely successful UGG line of women’s footwear, Deckers has chased away many short sellers. The Jefferies price target is a staggering $100. The Thomson/First Call estimate is much lower at $62.
The Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) ranks as the number two top pick at Jefferies. This apparel maker’s brands also include Old Navy and Banana Republic. The Jefferies price target is $56, while the consensus estimate is $40. Investors are paid a 1.50% dividend.
Francesca’s Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: FRAN) makes the list. Francesca’s was recently added to the Small Cap 600 stock index. Jefferies has a price target for the stock of $42. The consensus is at $39.
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: KORS) went public in December of 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. The company engages in the design, marketing, distribution and retail of branded women’s and men’s apparel and accessories. The Jefferies price target for this top name is $81. The consensus target is $75.
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrances Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) is an absolute magnet for women shoppers. Ulta Salon, after more than 20 years of operation, has become a large beauty retailer with more than 20,000 salon service locations in the United States. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $100 and the consensus is at $93.
Vera Bradley Inc. (NASDAQ: VRA) is primarily known for its iconic patterned bags. Between 2008 and 2012, the company doubled its annual revenue from $239 million to $541 million, and it nearly tripled its net earnings from $24 million to $69 million. Jefferies’ price objective is $35. The consensus estimate is $30.
Fossil Inc. (NASDAQ: FOSL) is a stock to buy. For the first quarter, the company beat revenue and earnings expectation handily. The Jefferies target is $130. The consensus for this volatile name is at $115.
rue21 Inc. (NASDAQ: RUE) completes the list of top retail stocks to buy at Jefferies. The company, which sells tank tops and graphic tees to teenagers at affordable prices, is shaping up to be a possible target for a private-equity investment. The Jefferies target for the stock is $40. The consensus estimate is $33.
The difference between the consensus price targets for these stocks and the Jefferies price targets tell a big story. If the consumer stays strong and the economy continues to improve, the sky-high Jefferies targets may indeed become a reality. Should the economy sputter and slow down, all retail bets may be off.