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Analyst boosts American Eagle rating, price target

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lifted her rating and price target for American Eagle on Wednesday, saying the retailer's brand is resilient.

Stephanie Wissink of PiperJaffray said that a survey conducted by her firm shows American Eagle Outfitters Inc. as the third most-preferred fashion brand among teenagers, an improvement from the previous year. The analyst believes that the addition of impulse-driven fashion is helping the brand recapture some of the share lost in the fall.

While the retailer may see some pent-up demand in the second quarter, Wissink thinks the third and fourth quarters provide the biggest opportunity to improve, particularly if the trend for refined classics, or modern-day preppy clothing, continues.

The Pittsburgh-based chain operates more than 1,000 stores in North America. It warned last month that first-quarter results would miss analysts' estimates as bad weather and the weak economy hurt consumer spending in February, and its stock has declined 15 percent since then.

The analyst raised American Eagle's rating to "Overweight" from "Neutral" and increased its price target to $24 from $23.

The company's stock added 30 cents to $19.39 in afternoon trading.