Dec 11, 2008
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Weak sales warning hits Urban Outfitters shares

Dec 11, 2008

Shares of Urban Outfitters Inc fell as much as 22 percent Thursday, a day after the apparel retailer posted flat same-stores sales for November and warned sales trends could worsen further during the rest of the holiday season.

Urban Outfitters spring-summer 2009

"Based on current uncertainty and volatility in the marketplace, it is possible comparable store net sales may further decelerate during the remainder of the holiday season," the maker of Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and its namesake brands said in a regulatory filing dated December 10.

The news prompted at least five brokerages to cut their price targets on the company's stock.

Needham & Co slashed its price target by $9 to $23, while Citigroup cut it by $6 to $20. Wedbush Morgan Securities cut its price target on the company by $3 to $21.

Friedman Billings Ramsey and Thomas Weisel Partners cut their price targets to $16 from $18 and $19, respectively.

Urban Outfitters, which sells casual, hip apparel, accessories and home decor to teenagers, had seen a 10 percent rise in consolidated same-store sales in October.

"We believe that the macro challenges and weak mall traffic could simply be too much to contend with in the upcoming year," Friedman analysts said in a note to clients.

Increased markdowns, specially at the company's Anthropologie division, are likely to pressure merchandise margins, they said.

However, analysts at UBS Investment Research said in a note that the company's strategy to take more aggressive markdowns on Anthropologie now would let it end the fourth quarter in a better inventory position against peers.

Analysts at UBS expect comparable sales to be down 3 percent, while Thomas Weisel expects comparable sales to be down 8 percent at Anthrpologie, and down 1 percent at Free People, they said in a note dated December10.

Shares of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters were trading at $15.17, down 20 percent, in morning trade on Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy)

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