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Sector Wrap: Retailers good bet for 2014

The Associated Press

A Jefferies analyst said retail stocks were strong in 2013, and he expects the group to do well this year as consumers continue to recover from the downturn.

The analyst, Randal Konik, upgraded ratings on stocks of teen retailers Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters to "Buy" from "Hold." He said Urban Outfitters is turning its business around and that American Eagle's strong management team is should help the retailer's earnings recover.

Teen retailers have been struggling with weaker spending by young consumers lately. Those shoppers are fickle and are still feeling the effects of a difficult economy. And teen shoppers have limited money to spend on clothes and accessories.

Shares of Urban Outfitters Inc. rose 68 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $37.78 Thursday. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. shares rose 33 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $14.73.

Konik changed his investment ratings for several other clothing retailers as well.

— Abercrombie & Fitch Co. was downgraded to "Hold" from "Buy." Shares fell 90 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $32.01.

— Aeropostale Inc. was downgraded to "Hold" from "Buy." Shares fell 1 cent to $9.08.

— Ann Inc. was upgraded to "Buy" from "Hold." Shares rose $1.75, or 4.8 percent, to $38.31.

— Chico's FAS Inc. was upgraded to "Buy" from "Hold." Shares rose 53 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $19.37.