Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands shares drop as sales slip, but analysts are optimistic about 2019

L Brands Inc. shares fell 7.6% in Thursday trading after the Victoria’s Secret parent company reported a sales decline and said the merchandise margin rate for that lingerie brand was down “significantly” due to higher promotional activity. Sales for the five weeks ending Jan. 5 totaled $2.477 billion, down from $2.516 billion last year. Nonetheless, analysts are bullish that the steps the company have taken, like the sale of its La Senza brand, and the ongoing shifts at the company will yield positive results. “Business trends should eventually improve, and L Brands is a share leader in an attractive category with strong global runway,” wrote Cowen analysts, who rate L Brands shares market perform with a $30 price target. “We are most hopeful for initiatives around real estate since U.S. store count remains at an all-time high (which is nearly unheard of for legacy retailers today) and high-cost flagships are likely a meaningful drag on profitability,” wrote Wells Fargo analysts, who would also like to see changes to the international business. Analysts are confident that these changes alongside new leadership at Victoria’s Secret and Pink will drive an inflection in fiscal 2019. Wells Fargo rates L Brands stock outperform with a $45 price target. “We view L Brands as a compelling story led by an experienced, blue-chip management team focused on the right key initiatives able to drive meaningful multi-year runway ahead,” wrote Wedbush analysts. They rate L Brands stock neutral with a $29 price target. L Brands shares have taken a 46% nose dive over the last year while the S&P 500 index is down 6.2% for the period.

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