Jan 4, 2010
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Jefferies says luxury retail to gain, ups Tiffany

Jan 4, 2010

Jan 4 (Reuters) - Jefferies & Co upgraded jeweler Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) saying luxury retail is set for a comeback, and downgraded off-price retailers TJX Cos Inc (TJX.N) and Ross Stores (ROST.O), saying value trade has peaked.

"Consumer spending trends will begin to return to more 'normal' behavior, and while consumers may remain value-bent, the incremental fundamental momentum for this sector

(off-price) is waning," analysts led by Randal Konik said in a note to clients.

In contrast, Konik said he sees "nascent signs of a luxury spending recovery which should continue to accelerate."

High-end stores like Tiffany and even more-affordable peers such as Zale Corp (ZLC.N) have taken a painful blow to sales in the past year as consumers confined their buying to necessities and discounted items.

The analyst said "turnaround companies" such as Gap Inc (GPS.N), AnnTaylor Stores Corp (ANN.N) & Chico's FAS Inc (CHS.N) -- which attracted investor attention in the past two years -- have already seen increased earnings being factored in their stock.

"After a two-year hiatus during which turnaround stories garnered a majority of investor attention, we expect a renewed appetite for growth stocks to emerge this year," analyst Konik said, upgrading Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc (ULTA.O) to "buy" from "hold."

The following is a table of the other rating changes: Company RIC Rating

New Old Tiffany's TIF.N Buy Hold American Eagle AEO.N Hold Buy Gap GPS.N Hold Buy Chicos FAS CHS.N Hold Buy AnnTaylor ANN.N Underperform Hold Ross Stores ROST.O Underperform Hold TJX TJX.N Underperform Hold

(Reporting by Shobhana Chadha in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)

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