NEW YORK--Shares of two big apparel retailers jumped Friday after investment firms upgraded their stock.
Shares of Nordstrom climbed 1 1/4 to 40 in over-the-counter-trading following Bear Stearns & Co.'s upgrade of the specialty chain to "buy" from "hold."
After J.P. Morgan Securities made a similar upgrade recommendation for The Limited and set a 12-to-18-month price target of 24 to 25, Limited stock rose 3/8 to 19 5/8 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Analyst Steven Kernkraut at Bear Stearns told WWD that Nordstrom stands out among other retailers with tremendous growth from new stores in addition to catalog operations that have exceeded expectations. He estimates a 15 percent top-line growth with aggressive store expansion in the Chicago, White Plains, N.Y., and Philadelphia markets. The analyst projected an annual earnings growth rate of 18 percent over the next three years.
Kernkraut said the stock is undervalued at current prices.
The analyst estimates the firm will earn 41 cents a share for the third quarter over 31 cents last year. For the full year, he estimates Nordstrom will earn $2.40, against $1.71 last year.
In the second quarter ended July 31, Nordstrom earned $63 million, or 77 cents a share, on sales of $1.1 billion.
J.P. Morgan cited significant improvements in merchandise offerings at the Limited and Express stores for its upgrade to "buy" from "market performer." The firm said it sees growth for the retailer and expects apparel to bolster The Limited's merchandise margins following poor fall 1993 and spring 1994 seasons.
Women's innerwear is expected to post solid results, according to the investment firm.
J.P. Morgan maintained its third-quarter estimates of 25 cents a share and $1.25 for the year, but added that the potential is there for a strong fourth quarter to lift results even further. A year ago, the retailer earned 23 cents in the third quarter and $1.08 in the year.
--Fairchild News Service

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