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Ulta Beauty Rises After Analysts Lift Targets on Earnings Beat

Ulta Beauty analysts from several investment firms raised their price targets on the cosmetics retailer's stock.

Shares of Ulta Beauty  (ULTA) jumped Friday after the cosmetics retailer swung to a profit during its fiscal first quarter. Sales picked up in a rebounding U.S. economy.

Analysts from Barclays, Credit Suisse, Evercore ISI, Jefferies, J.P. Morgan and Oppenheimer raised their price targets on the stock.

Shares of the Bolingbrook, Ill., company at last check rose 5.2% to $345.28.

Analysts at Barclays raised their price target on Ulta to a Wall-Street-high $452 from $361.

"The results show the power of beauty in women’s lives," Barclays analysts wrote in a note. [And] as the economy reopens, we still see the catalysts of return to work and back to school. Ulta saw broad-based strength across nearly every category." 

Analysts at Jefferies raised their target on the stock to $330 from $300. The quarter "outshone across the board, although investor feedback suggests expectations were at that level, and [the] outlook was milder than hoped, suggesting first-quarter strength [was] partially transitory," they wrote.

"The combo of stimulus, 'reload' and underspend on costs helped operational margins," added the Jefferies analysts, who have a hold rating on the stock.

J.P. Morgan raised its price target on Ulta to $379 from $357, describing the chain "one of the best COVID-19 recovery stocks in retail."

"Ulta touched all the bases and was strongly above our bullish preview," the investment firm's analysts said,

"Bigger picture, given how early it is in the reopening process, the recent mask mandate removals, greater travel and social events as the year progresses, and more work-from-work/learn-from-school in second-half 2021, we believe Ulta's sales recovery is in the very early stages while we are optimistic color cosmetics drawer restock remains ahead of us," they wrote in a note.

Credit Suisse said that "[similar] to broader retail trends, Ulta benefited in late March from stimulus -- which was a bigger driver for mass cosmetics which turned positive."

The firm maintained its outperform rating and raised its price target to $390 from $350.

Oppenheimer, which rates the stock outperform, lifted its price target on Ulta to $385 from $360. 

The investment firm touted Ulta Beauty and Estee Lauder  (EL)  among its "top beauty picks."

Evercore ISI analyst Omar Saad called Ulta’s results a “mic drop.” Evercore also has an outperform rating on the stock.

Analysts at Piper Sandler said, "We continue to favor ULTA on the heels of their first-quarter results, which not only came in ahead of expectations but also saw the highest level of first-quarter sales, gross margin and [earnings before interest and taxes] in the history of the company." 

"In terms of outperformance, store and digital productivity were both better than expected,' the analysts wrote.

Piper Sandler has an overweight rating on the stock and a price target of $386.

And at Cowen, analyst Oliver Chen said that while first-quarter results were a “clean beat,” the updated guidance implies that margins will be pressured compared with 2019. 

“Constrained margins with [an] improving top line could weigh on [the] stock, but we continue to like Ulta in the long run," he wrote.

Chen added that Ulta can widen its margins through a number of avenues including cleaner inventories and a Prestige cosmetics rebound.