Under Armour rose 2.55% to $19.69 a share in afternoon trading. Analysts at CFRA upgraded the stock to Hold from Strong Sell and maintained their $15 a share price target, representing 23% downside.
The analysts wrote Friday that the athletic apparel maker experienced strong holiday traffic website traffic. Based on data from Alexa Internet Inc., Under Armour's website, the analysts wrote, "was one of the most trafficked apparel and footwear websites between November 19 and December 19, the critical holiday shopping period."
Several rivals, especially Nike Inc. (NKE - Get Report) , are adopting direct-to-consumer initiatives (DTC). DTC accounted for roughly one-third of Under Armour's total third-quarter revenue. Wholesale quarterly revenue rose 4% to $914 million, but DTC was flat at $465 million.
The analysts recognized a trend that could indicate Under Armour's moving closer to unlocking the right DTC strategy. "Our findings suggest more optimism for UAA's ability to revive DTC growth," they wrote.
Under Armour's gain could be Nike's loss should customers shun Nike's website for Under Armour's. On the flip side, the trend could be a positive indicator for Nike's DTC efforts. Nike shares traded flat on Friday afternoon.
Under Armour's DTC shift could also hurt Foot Locker Inc. (FL - Get Report) by cutting out the retailer's traditional middle man role, a hypothetical posed in a November Morgan Stanley note. Foot Locker trades at a just-over-ten forward price-to-earnings multiple, "slightly below FL's historical three-year forward P/E average, reflecting headwinds, we see, from NKE's consumer-direct offense," CFRA analysts said in a separate note on Foot Locker. Still, they upgraded Foot Locker writing "we have revised our outlook on the footwear manufacturing industry to positive from neutral, following encouraging U.S-China trade developments during bilateral negotiations in Beijing January 7-9."
CFRA lifted its price target on Foot Locker to $50 from $45, still more than $6 below its current share price.