RETAIL REVISITED: Prudential Financial retail analyst Stacy Pak upgraded Gap Inc.’s stock rating to hold from sell based on the chance the retailing giant’s shares will move up with those of the retail sector in anticipation of an economic recovery. Gap’s shares have fallen 19 percent since late November, compared with a 2.5 percent increase in the S&P Retail Index. While concerns about Gap’s fundamentals persist, she raised her price target to $11 from the $9 given in a blistering research report one month ago. Moody’s Investors Services lowered its rating outlook of The Limited Inc. to negative from stable, based on concerns about its Intimate Brands subsidiary. Moody’s said IBI, which has accounted for the majority of Limited’s operating profit in the last two years, may not be able to grow sales and cash flow as robustly in the future.
Gilman to Asbury: Kenneth Gilman, vice chairman and chief administrative officer of The Limited Inc. from 1993 to 2001, has become president and ceo of Asbury Automotive Group Inc. Gilman takes over responsibilities held on an interim basis by Thomas Gibson, who assumed the role following the untimely death of Brian Kendrick. Gibson remains chairman of Asbury. Gilman was shifted out of the Limited corporate role to become ceo of the Lane Bryant division last year, to help prepare the chain to be sold. Charming Shoppes bought it in August 2001.