March 14, 2012 / 1:22 PM / 5 years ago

Francesca's shares rise on outlook; 3 brokerages raise targets

(Reuters) - Shares of Francesca's Holdings Corp (FRAN.O) rose 15 percent on Wednesday after the women's specialty retailer forecast a strong current quarter, prompting at least three brokerages to raise their price targets on the stock.

On Tuesday, the company, which sells apparel, jewelry, accessories and gifts catering to 18-35-year-olds, also posted fourth-quarter profit above market estimates, helped by higher sales during the holiday season.

Wedbush Securities analyst Betty Chen, who raised her price target on the stock to $30 from $26, said Francesca's will benefit from solid spring selling.

"We anticipate the company to continue offering multiple item-specific promotions to support consumer interest in tops, accessories, and gifting categories," Chen wrote in a client note.

The company, which competes with chains such as Chico's (CHS.N) White House Black Market, Ann Inc's ANN.N LOFT, and Urban Outfitter's (URBN.O) Anthropologie, has been boosting online sales and investing in store expansion.

"We look for the online channel to sustain its solid momentum, partially driven by the 'pick of the week' strategy along with 'flash events' that led sales growth of 64 percent in the fourth quarter," analyst Chen added.

Jefferies & Co and KeyBanc also raised their price targets on the stock.

Shares of Houston-based Francesca's jumped more than 50 percent since the beginning of this year. They were up at $30.92 before market. The stock closed at $26.78 on Tuesday on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Meenakshi Iyer in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel

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