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Is Lululemon (LULU) a Buy as Wall Street Analysts Look Optimistic?

The recommendations of Wall Street analysts are often relied on by investors when deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold a stock. Media reports about these brokerage-firm-employed (or sell-side) analysts changing their ratings often affect a stock's price. Do they really matter, though?

Let's take a look at what these Wall Street heavyweights have to say about Lululemon (LULU) before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage.

Lululemon currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.74, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by 27 brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.74 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.

Of the 27 recommendations that derive the current ABR, 17 are Strong Buy and three are Buy. Strong Buy and Buy respectively account for 63% and 11.1% of all recommendations.

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Brokerage Recommendation Trends for LULU

Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for LULU
Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for LULU



Check price target & stock forecast for Lululemon here>>>

While the ABR calls for buying Lululemon, it may not be wise to make an investment decision solely based on this information. Several studies have shown limited to no success of brokerage recommendations in guiding investors to pick stocks with the best price increase potential.

Are you wondering why? The vested interest of brokerage firms in a stock they cover often results in a strong positive bias of their analysts in rating it. Our research shows that for every "Strong Sell" recommendation, brokerage firms assign five "Strong Buy" recommendations.

In other words, their interests aren't always aligned with retail investors, rarely indicating where the price of a stock could actually be heading. Therefore, the best use of this information could be validating your own research or an indicator that has proven to be highly successful in predicting a stock's price movement.

Zacks Rank, our proprietary stock rating tool with an impressive externally audited track record, categorizes stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), and is an effective indicator of a stock's price performance in the near future. Therefore, using the ABR to validate the Zacks Rank could be an efficient way of making a profitable investment decision.

ABR Should Not Be Confused With Zacks Rank

Although both Zacks Rank and ABR are displayed in a range of 1-5, they are different measures altogether.

The ABR is calculated solely based on brokerage recommendations and is typically displayed with decimals (example: 1.28). In contrast, the Zacks Rank is a quantitative model allowing investors to harness the power of earnings estimate revisions. It is displayed in whole numbers -- 1 to 5.

It has been and continues to be the case that analysts employed by brokerage firms are overly optimistic with their recommendations. Because of their employers' vested interests, these analysts issue more favorable ratings than their research would support, misguiding investors far more often than helping them.

In contrast, the Zacks Rank is driven by earnings estimate revisions. And near-term stock price movements are strongly correlated with trends in earnings estimate revisions, according to empirical research.

Furthermore, the different grades of the Zacks Rank are applied proportionately across all stocks for which brokerage analysts provide earnings estimates for the current year. In other words, at all times, this tool maintains a balance among the five ranks it assigns.

Another key difference between the ABR and Zacks Rank is freshness. The ABR is not necessarily up-to-date when you look at it. But, since brokerage analysts keep revising their earnings estimates to account for a company's changing business trends, and their actions get reflected in the Zacks Rank quickly enough, it is always timely in indicating future price movements.

Is LULU a Good Investment?

Looking at the earnings estimate revisions for Lululemon, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has increased 0.1% over the past month to $12.47.

Analysts' growing optimism over the company's earnings prospects, as indicated by strong agreement among them in revising EPS estimates higher, could be a legitimate reason for the stock to soar in the near term.

The size of the recent change in the consensus estimate, along with three other factors related to earnings estimates, has resulted in a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) for Lululemon. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>

Therefore, the Buy-equivalent ABR for Lululemon may serve as a useful guide for investors.

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Zacks Investment Research