Shares of Williams-Sonoma Inc. edged up 0.1% in afternoon trading, after BofA Securities analyst Curtis Nagle backed away from his bearish stance on the household products retailer on the belief that profit stays higher for longer in the wake of “very strong” fiscal first-quarter results. Nagle raised his rating to neutral from underperform, while lifting his price target to $180 from $100, or to 6.0% above current levels from 41.1% below. “Home furnishings demand remains strong and is evident in [BofA] aggregated credit and debit card data, very strong high end home turnover (a plus for [Williams-Sonoma]), long buying cycles for furniture purchase related to housing and recent BofA spending surveys,” Nagle wrote in a note to clients. He said he still sees risk of long-term pressure on margins as a result of promotions and advertising, which is among the reasons he isn’t bullish on the stock. Williams-Sonoma shares have soared 66.7% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has climbed 47.3% and the S&P 500 has gained 11.9%.
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