Analyst cuts Finish Line rating, price target

Analyst lowers rating, price target for Finish Line; says issues from 3Q may not be behind it

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Finish Line declined on Monday but managed to stay above the new 52-week low set on Friday as an analyst downgraded the athletic footwear and clothing company's rating and price target.

Eric Tracy of Janney Capital Markets cut the retailer to "Neutral" from "Buy" and reduced its price target to $19 from $27.

On Friday Finish Line Inc. reported a fiscal third-quarter loss. The company said consumers did not respond well to its new website launched in November, and sneaker trends changed. Its performance missed analysts' estimates, and the company cut its full-year earnings forecast.

In a client note, Tracy said the difficulties are probably not a one-quarter issue, as part of the problem was a shift in consumer demand to basketball shoes from running shoes. The analyst said that Finish Line will probably start to add more basketball items, but that it remains to be seen how much will be included — as Tracy estimates about 40 percent to 50 percent of the company's product is running-oriented.

Sterne, Agee and Leach's Sam Poser recommended not investing in Finish Line until the company becomes more focused.

"The attempt to rapidly redo its digital platform and its stores has proven disastrous," he wrote.

Poser said the retailer rolled out its new website too fast and without the proper testing. The company said Friday that it has returned to its prior website.

The analyst maintained a "Neutral" rating.

Finish Line's stock fell 13 cents to $17.33 in afternoon trading. The shares dropped to $17.08 on Friday, a new 52-week low. They closed at $17.46 Friday.

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