Shares of Nike Inc (NKE) - Get Report were up 2.1% to $59 in Thursday's trading session after Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole upgraded the stock to overweight from equal-weight. He assigned a $68 price target, which implies almost 20% upside from current levels.
Given the stock's flat performance over the past 12 months -- literally, with a 0.12% decline over the last year -- investors would cheer a 20% rally back toward its former highs.
Sole says the "window is closing" to buy Nike stock, arguing that new shoe lines will give a boost to sales. Additionally, he said earnings and North American sales are troughing. Sole's upgrade is in contrast to Needham's view, which hit the company with a hold rating Tuesday. While the analyst did say they were more bullish over the long term, they argued that future growth is already priced in.
Instead, the analyst rallied behind Lululemon Athletica inc. (LULU) - Get Report , which jumped 3.3% on Wednesday after Needham upgraded it to a buy. After the stock's rally, Needham's $67 price target implies upside of about 10%. While a 10% return isn't bad, the ~17% return that Morgan Stanley expects from Nike is better. We'll see which is right.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.