U.S. Markets close in 6 hrs 21 mins

Analyst lifts Blue Nile rating on solid 2Q trends

NEW YORK (AP) -- A William Blair analyst is lifting his rating for Blue Nile, saying that improving economic conditions and solid second-quarter trends should benefit the online jewelry company.

The analyst Mark Miller upgraded Blue Nile Inc. to "Outperform" from "Market Perform."

He said in a client note that rising consumer confidence, better access to consumer credit and stable diamond prices should help give a boost to Blue Nile's stock.

Miller also is upbeat on the second quarter, as it includes Mother's Day — Blue Nile's third most-significant holiday of the year behind Christmas and Valentine's Day. In addition, the U.S. non-engagement jewelry business is seeing better trends in wedding bands and diamond jewelry, with management feeling the segment could ramp up even more, he said.

Miller feels that the non-engagement business could be aided by several initiatives undertaken by Blue Nile, including its Band Matcher feature — which makes it easier for shoppers to match their engagement rings with complementary wedding bands.

Blue Nile declined to comment.

Shares climbed 53 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $39.44 in Tuesday afternoon trading. Its shares are near the high end of their 52-week trading range of $22.94 to $43.54.