Jefferies downgraded this retail stock today despite strong retail sales report

S&P 500 is trading down on Wednesday after the Census Bureau said retail sales were up way more than expected in January.

American Eagle Outfitters stock lacks upside

For the month, advanced retail sales went up 3.0% versus expectations of a much narrower 1.9% increase – suggesting the U.S. consumer is keeping resilient in the face of inflationary pressures.

Core retail sales were also up 2.3% last month; well above the 0.9% gain that economists had forecast. Nonetheless, a Jefferies analyst is convinced that recession is still nigh.

To that end, he downgraded American Eagle Outfitters Inc (NYSE: AEO) on Wednesday to “hold”. Randal J. Konik also trimmed his price target on the apparel retailer to $16 that signals “no” upside in its shares from their current price.

The bear case for American Eagle Outfitters Inc

Konik now expects the retailer’s revenue to remain flat for the year. At 14 times forward earnings, he finds the stock expensive relative to its average valuation over the past five years.

More importantly, the Jefferies analyst says this retail stock is not well-positioned to weather an economic downturn. His research note reads:

Clothing/footwear is typically a low performing category from start to exit of recession and recovers with overall spending. On average, over the past 8 recession, [this] category saw no growth until the quarter coming out of recession.

Year-to-date, American Eagle Outfitters stock is currently up close to 10%. Better retail names to own right now, Konik concluded, include Nike, Foot Locker, and Boot Barn.

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