NEW YORK, United States — Shares of yoga-pants specialists Lululemon Athletica surged 20 percent on Thursday, with several Wall Street analysts raising their price targets for the company after a blockbuster fourth quarter.
Wednesday's results showed the Vancouver-based athleisure wear maker moving strongly into menswear, improving online sales and potentially challenging bigger rival Nike Inc on its home turf.
Its success in North America, which contributes close to 90 percent of its business, stood out in a quarter where Nike, which introduced yoga wear at the end of last year, fell short of Wall Street estimates for U.S. sales the first time in a year.
Shares of the company climbed 20 percent to $167.60 in early trade.
"There's a lot of runway for us to continue to grow our men's business," Chief Operating Officer Stuart Haselden said in a post-earnings conference call with analysts.
"We really believe that Lululemon can be a dual-gender brand, and that our men's business can ultimately be as big as our women's."
Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy firm Metaforce, said that Lululemon's expansion into menswear and fitness will add to headaches for Nike and Adidas, already in a brutal war over market share in their core markets.
"They play in the same neighbourhood but not on the same block," he said. "Lululemon has one foot in the fashion world and one foot in athletics while Nike has both feet in athletics."
Adamson said Lululemon could pose more of a threat to Nike in newer markets like China where consumers' definitions of the circumstances in which they can wear fitness, athletics and sports clothing are shifting quickly.
Lululemon forecast a strong 2019, said North America was doing well and reported a 37 percent jump in direct-to-consumer net revenue for the three months ended Feb. 3.
At least 11 brokerages have raised their price targets on Lululemon's stock, with Stifel raising it the most by $35 to $187. JP Morgan held the highest target price of $197.
"We expect Lululemon to continue to rise above others who sell activewear, through targeted and nuanced customer engagement both online and in stores," Susquehanna analyst Sam Poser said.
By Arundhati Sarkar and Uday Sampath Kumar; Editor: Bernard Orr