This story has been updated from 3:02pm EST with comments from retail analyst Marie Driscoll.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Lululemon Athletica (LULU), the yoga and athletic apparel retailer that has struggled to recover from its own stumblings, reports first-quarter earnings Thursday and Wall Street analysts aren't expecting much of a recovery despite having a new CEO, the veteran retail executive, Laurent Potdevin.
But does that mean investors should stay away from the stock?
Lululemon shares have been stuck in reverse as the specialty retailer suffers through the lingering effects of last year's recall of its popular Luon pant, the resignation of former CEO Christine Day and the callous remarks by its founder Chip Wilson last year who exlaimed that the company's pants were not suitable for larger-sized women.
Shares are down 23% year to date.
Analysts say that at least in the short term, Lululemon shares are likely to endure more pain. "I wouldn't be buying this [stock] now," says retail analyst Marie Driscoll. "The brand still has strong appeal," however, investors won't see a "heady pop until they really execute."Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser agrees: "LULU's same-store sales are likely not to exceed positive mid-single digits until 2016," Poser wrote in an investor report. "The LULU brand has been scarred and it will take great product, balanced with strong guest and community engagement for LULU to return to its prior greatness."
And that outlook came after Poser upgraded Lululemon on June 5 to "neutral" from "underperform," after the stock went above his $43 price target. As for guidance, Lululemon said in its March earnings conference call that revenue would be between $377 million and $382 million with flat comparable sales - which now includes both same-store sales and e-commerce purchases. Analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, expect the Vancouver-based company's quarterly earnings to have increase by just 1% from last year's quarter to 32 cents per share. While revenue is expected to have gained 10% to $381 million, according to the average analysts' estimate, same-store sales - those stores open more than a year - are expected to decline 1.23% compared to a year ago in which comps rose 7%, Thomson Reuters estimates.
Just where this company is headed remains debatable.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer has said he is unsure what to make of Lululemon's new CEO, having been an admirer of his predecessor, Day. Cramer said in a video on TheStreet that the stock is very close to bottoming, but isn't there yet. Potdevin, who took over in January, said 2014 is "an investment year, with an emphasis on strengthening our foundation, reigniting our product engine, and accelerating sustainable and controlled global expansion," according to its last earnings call in March.
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