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Lululemon shares hit an all-time high on strength of ‘work at home wear’

May 21, 2020, 8:59 PM UTC
Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Lululemon Athletica Inc. notched an all-time high Thursday after shares climbed 92% from a low in March as Wall Street bet that those working from home would purchase more athleisure wear.

The company’s product categories are in the sweet spot right now, analysts say, including B. Riley FBR’s Susan Anderson. “Casual, active, and lounge-wear is what’s selling; pretty much everyone has said that,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.

Before the pandemic, Lululemon’s online sales rose 35% in its last full year, and Anderson expects the growth to have accelerated further this quarter. Meanwhile, many of the company’s physical stores remain closed in North America, with some markets beginning to reopen in accordance with local government mandates.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel agreed Lululemon is an “at-home Covid winner.” But he questioned what that will mean longer term and said the potential risks are not being priced into the stock currently.

Stock prices today are dominated by themes, he said in an interview. And right now, people are making purchases in athleisure wear to “recalibrate to their current new norm.” But, do people need to buy more or less fashionable athleisure? Is there a need to have multiple outfits to sit at your desk, home alone? These are among the things Siegel wonders. “When people are working in groups, fashion plays a stronger role, but at home comfort is king.”

“It remains to be seen what the financial implications of the pandemic will be, but it seems reasonable to assume the audience of people willing to buy high-priced clothing is not going to get larger,” Siegel said. “The question is: does it stabilize or shrink?”

As for the company’s upcoming earnings report, Siegel too is expecting a “strong” online performance. Color around digital performance and initial store reopenings will be what moves the stock, he said.

Barclays analyst Adrienne Yih also told clients in a note that “with core customers working from home, we believe ‘work-at-home wear’ consists of comfortable and casual apparel, and Lulu fits the bill.” Based on her view that there will be an increase in people working from home after Covid-19, she boosted her estimates for next year.

Anderson and Yih have buy-equivalent ratings on the stock. Siegel rates it a market perform.

Lululemon will host an annual meeting on June 3. Fiscal first-quarter results are expected to be reported in the first half of June.