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Estee Lauder beat expectations thanks to China and travel retail but the Americas business has stalled

Tonya Garcia

Estee Lauder Cos. was downgraded to neutral from buy at D.A. Davidson despite beating third-quarter earnings and sales expectations. Analysts there call out the Americas business, expressing concern that it's "not improving, which was a thesis point when we upgraded to buy last August." D.A. Davidson also cut its price target to $155 from $179. "The prestige color cosmetics category in the U.S. is now declining, and Estee Lauder's Smashbox, Becca, and Too Faced brands need upped investment," D.A. Davidson wrote. Wells Fargo called the Americas "beleaguered," noting Estee Lauder's exposure at department stores where foot traffic is an issue. Estee Lauder's Chief Financial Officer said on the call that about half of the U.S. business is in department stores. Wells Fargo rates Estee Lauder shares market perform with a $155 price target. Estee Lauder's price target was raised at Raymond James (to $181 from $164 with an outperform stock rating) and UBS (to $172 from $153 with a neutral rating). Estee Lauder shares have gained 29.5% in 2019 while the S&P 500 index is up nearly 17%.