AnnTaylor Shares Tumble After Analyst Downgrade

Monday, 03 Jan 2011 04:01 PM

 

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Shares of AnnTaylor Stores Corp. slid Monday as an investment analyst cut her rating on the women's clothing retailer, saying spring sales at its LOFT division could disappoint.

PiperJaffray analyst Neely Tamminga cut her rating on AnnTaylor to "Neutral" from "Overweight." She kept her price target for the stock at $29. That still suggests a gain of about 6 percent from Friday's close after a big rally this year.

Like other U.S. retailers, AnnTaylor suffered a big revenue decline during the recession, but revenue recovered in 2010 and earnings got a boost from cost cuts.

That was reflected in its shares. The stock price has doubled in the past 12 months and trades near a 52-week high.

Tamminga is worried that an unexciting spring clothing assortment will hurt LOFT's sales. LOFT stores make up about 60 percent of company sales, so weaker-than-expected revenue would shrink AnnTaylor's profit margins.

Tamminga said she thinks the company is mistakenly rolling out neutrals and coral rather than pink clothing items. She expects pink to be spring's hottest color. She also berated LOFT for showcasing clothing separates rather than complete outfits.

AnnTaylor stock dropped $1.45, or 5.3 percent, to $25.94 in afternoon trading. Shares have traded from $11.59 to $28.24 in the past 12 months.

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