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Analyst keeps Gap as top pick, touts collaboration

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst is keeping Gap among his top picks, saying Banana Republic's limited edition Issa London collection later this year shows the company's commitment to offering better products and creating buzz for its brands.

On Friday Gap Inc. announced that the Banana Republic Issa London capsule collection will be sold at certain Banana Republic stores globally and online starting on Aug. 6. It will feature nearly 40 pieces, including clothing priced from $69.50 to $150 and jewelry and accessories priced from $39.50 to $150.

Issa London is known for its bright hues and was thrust into the public spotlight when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore one of its bright blue silk wrap dresses for the royal engagement announcement in November 2010.

Randal Konik of Jefferies is encouraged by the partnership.

"We believe the effortlessly chic and feminine nature of the Issa brand is a perfect complement to Banana Republic and think that the collaboration will provide great summer to fall transition pieces," he wrote in a client note.

Konik said that the partnership also keeps things "fresh and exciting" at Banana Republic and shows that Gap is becoming the preferred partner for designer collaborations, having had success in the past with the Banana Republic Mad Men collections and Trina Turk collection, Gap Kids DVF collaboration, Gap's GQ collaboration and others.

Thursday the San Francisco company reported that an earlier-than-usual Easter led to a 1 percent decline in revenue at stores open at least a year during March, smaller than the 2.1 percent drop predicted by Wall Street. Gap, whose other brands include Piperlime and Athleta, has about 3,000 company-operated stores and about 300 franchise stores in 90 countries.

Konik maintained a "Buy" rating and $56 price target.

Gap Inc.' stock added 12 cents to $38.02 in Friday afternoon trading. The shares are up about 22 percent for the year to date.