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Dick's (DKS) Stock Climbs Despite Downgrade

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Shares of Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS - Free Report) rose slightly on Thursday despite earning yet another analyst downgrade—this time from Cowen.

Cowen, citing all too familiar reasoning, lowered its rating for the struggling sporting goods retailer from “outperform” to “market perform.” Cowen’s John Kernan also reduced his Dick’s price target to $28 a share from $31 a share.

"Despite Dick's Sporting Goods remaining the preferred destination when shopping for sporting goods according to the Cowen Consumer Tracker, slowing N. America sales growth rates from key vendors Nike and Under Armour, along with increased emphasis on the brands' own direct-to-consumer platforms will pressure Dick's Sporting Goods SSS [same-store sales] growth and margin profile," Kernan wrote in a note clients.

The Cowen note also cited the fact that Nike (NKE - Free Report) and Under Armour (UAA - Free Report) represent 32% of Dick’s overall sales. But by now, Dick’s investors are likely well aware of the company’s exposure to these brands and understand that analysts are worried that sportswear companies will transition further into direct to consumer sales.

"With Nike's plans to shortly begin direct selling on Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods likely three largest vendors, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas will all be selling directly on Amazon," Kernan continued. "Sporting good and athletic apparel and footwear industries are currently over-inventoried and the environment is as promotional as we have ever seen."

Yet, shares of Dick’s climbed 1.09% in morning trading. So why did the Pittsburgh-based retailer’s stock climb slightly in morning trading after this downgrade?

It is very possible that this line of reasoning simply no longer scares Dick’s investors—because they have heard it all before.

The company’s stock price has plummeted by more than 50% since the start of 2017, due in large part to poor sales and lower than expected earnings. And the reason for the drop-off has to be attributed to an overall shift in the retail landscape, especially when considering that Dick’s faces less direct brick-and-mortar sporting goods competition overall.

Today’s marginal gain could be a sign that investors are just trying to wish away the Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) malaise. However, as Wal-Mart (WAL - Free Report) begins to show true staying power in traditional retail’s fight against online outlets, maybe investors hope that Dick’s can act quickly to change its current trajectory by pivoting some of its business models.

Sports Industry Retail

The sports retail industry is up almost across the board despite the downgrade and cautious note for an industry giant (also read: Retail Stocks Gain on Better-Than-Expected Earnings From Abercrombie, Sears).

Sporting goods retailer Finish Line saw marginal gains, while shares of Foot Locker (FL - Free Report) climbed by 1.50% on Thursday. Fellow we-sell-everything sporting goods chain Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV - Free Report) saw its stock price jump by 3%, and shares of Hibbett Sports (HIBB - Free Report) skyrocketed nearly 10%.

The sportswear and sporting goods brands that these retailers often heavily rely on also saw nearly universal gains. Shares of Under Armour (UAA - Free Report) , Adidas AG (ADDYY - Free Report) , Nike (NKE - Free Report) , Columbia Sportswear (COLM - Free Report) , and Callaway Golf (ELY - Free Report) all climbed marginally.

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