Shares of Levi Strauss (LEVI rose 2.1% to $22.92 Monday after JPMorgan initiated coverage of the apparel company with an overweight rating and set a $26 year-end price target.
Analyst Matthew Boss said in a note to investors that "we view the combination of a strong tenured management team led by CEO (Chip) Bergh and brand heritage ... as a competitive advantage in expanding to a global lifestyle brand through 5 profitable growth buckets ... while growing the overall 'core' men's denim category 'at least' in line w/ the low-single-digit industry growth rate."
"Levi's is an iconic brand and the global market leader in a $100B Jeanswear market with (more than) 165 years of history and strong product DNA having invented the 'Blue Jean' in 1873 with Levi's brand equity serving as a meaningful barrier to entry, in our view," Boss said.
Boss said that Levi's is being led by a strong leadership team. Bergh, who came on board in 2011, brings "30 years of Procter & Gamble brand building to the table." Boss said Bergh overhauled all but two of the company's senior management team.
Last week, Levi Strauss posted its first earnings report as a public company with quarterly earnings of 37 cents a share on revenue of $1.44 billion. A year earlier, the jeans company reported a loss of 5 cents a share on revenue $1.34 billion.