NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Shares of Nike (NKE) - Get Report were lower in early afternoon trading on Monday as Bank of America/Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to "underperform" from "neutral." The firm also lowered its price target on the stock to $45 from $55.

Despite today's downgrade, Lebenthal Asset Management CEO Jim Lebenthal and Short Hills Capital CIO Stephen Weiss defended the Beaverton, OR-based athletic apparel company during Monday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" on CNBC.

"This is a stock that traditionally has traded in the mid-$20s as a multiple, much better than its growth rate. The reason it does that is because of the value of its brand," Lebenthal said.

However, the stock has started to drop below $20 on its multiple, and "if this stock comes down to $48 it is at the top of my buy list," he stated.

Investors would be getting a great, global brand at a discount, Lebenthal added.

"If you think that Nike is overvalued, I think Under Armour (UA) is egregiously overvalued here, and I still see Nike as the dominant shoe," Weiss noted.

Nike will eventually be the one to buy in the space, he continued.

"It may not be right now, but you never get these things at perfect times to make a lot of money, you have to buy them when the opportunity is there," he said.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author.

TheStreet Ratings rated this stock as a "buy" with a ratings score of B.

The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, growth in earnings per share and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: NKE

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