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Jefferies analyst boosts Gap price target

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Jefferies analyst raised his price target for Gap on Monday, saying he's even more confident in the retailer's turnaround as its fashions improve.

The San Francisco-based company, which operates stores under its namesake, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands, reported last month that its fourth-quarter profit jumped 61 percent. Gap's latest performance, which includes the critical holiday period, shows how its efforts to push brightly colored fashions, new designer collaborations and lively marketing campaigns are helping to invigorate sales after struggling for years to reclaim its fashion status.

Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said in a client note that fashion continues to be on track across the retailer's brands, with its spring product assortment received well by shoppers so far. The analyst said that pricing appears to be acceptable to consumers, with full-price selling up at its stores.

Konik said that Gap Inc.'s stock price is appealing, and downside appears to be limited given the company's solid balance sheet, cash flows and possible buybacks.

The analyst said that Gap is among his top picks, and he kept a "Buy" rating on it. He raised its price target to $51 from $50.

Gap's stock rose 34 cents to $36.73 in midday trading. The shares are up 17 percent year-to-date and have climbed 33 percent since July.