Ahead of Bell: Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance

Analyst cuts Ulta price target on weaker-than-expected outlook; stock falls in premarket

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lowered his price target for Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. on Friday, citing the company's weaker-than-expected first-quarter forecast.

Shares fell nearly 13 percent in premarket trading.

On Thursday the beauty products retailer said that it expects first-quarter earnings between 60 and 63 cents per share on revenue in a range of $568 million to $577 million. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted earnings of 72 cents per share on revenue of $578.9 million.

For the full year, the Bolingbrook, Ill., company expects its earnings per share growth, on a 52-week basis, will come in at the low-end of its 25 percent to 30 percent long-term target. It attributed the forecast partly to the cost of a number of projects slated for the year. Ulta plans to add more Clinique boutiques, upgrade its warehouse management systems and redesign its online business.

Ike Boruchow of Sterne, Agee & Leach cut Ulta's price target to $90 from $102 on the softer-than-expected outlook.

The company's stock dropped $10.97, or 12.4 percent, to $77.40 before the market open on Friday. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $78.87 to $103.52.

But Boruchow said in a client note that he believes that Ulta's long-term growth plans are still intact. Even though the company is facing near-term margin issues, Boruchow said that it is still one of the most appealing long-term growth stories in retail because of its store base, sizable market share opportunity and unique business that combines the prestige, mass and salon distribution channels.

The analyst reaffirmed a "Buy" rating.

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