Ulta Beauty (ULTA -1.74%) has attracted another conflicted Wall Street pro. An analyst at Loop Capital this week boosted his price target on the retailer's stock while keeping his rating at a hold and predicting declines in the share price over the short term.
Analyst Anthony Chukumba moved his price prediction up to $230 per share from $210 but remains bearish following the spa and beauty giant's weak first-quarter earnings report.
Ulta Beauty announced in late May that sales dove by over 33% due to COVID-19 related store closures in the first quarter. That slump generated an $80 million first-quarter loss despite the chain's booming digital business.
Ulta's short-term trends are unusually hard to predict while the pandemic threat remains. It is the industry leader in a wide range of essential products like skin and hair care. However, its interactive and personal shopping experience is a key draw for consumers, and that asset is threatened by social distancing requirements that are likely to last well into 2020.
Combine that challenge with the potential for tough conditions in the core makeup industry, and its not hard to see a scenario where Ulta's stock declines over the next few months. Investors' long-term returns, meanwhile, will depend on how well CEO Mary Dillon and her team can adjust the business to new consumer behavior by leaning on strengths like their e-commerce platform and industry-leading loyalty program.