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September 01, 2020 1:20pm
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Analysts are going crazy for this one-month-old stock

image of birkenstock sandals

Despite giving investors a mild heart attack during the first few days of public trading, shares of Birkenstock Holding plc (NYSE: BIRK) have been putting in a good shift ever since. In one of the more high-profile IPOs of the year, not least because of how recognizable the brand is, the 250-year-old company went public last month and promptly fell more than 15% from its opening highs. 

While question marks were quickly raised about the viability of a $9 billion valuation on what is essentially a luxury sandal company, the stock has only really gone up since. It tagged a fresh high during Wednesday's session, helped in part by a run of impressive calls from analysts. 

Bullish calls

Starting with the bullish calls, the team over at Jefferies initiated coverage with a Buy rating. Analyst Randal Konik is a fan of Birkenstock's brand strength and loyal customer base and sees this underpinning the company's future growth. The business is well-positioned for top-line growth and attractive margins, both of which investors will hope to see in the company's first public earnings report. 

Stifel echoed this with their own Buy rating, which came with a price target of $47. From where shares were trading on Wednesday, this pointed to a further upside of at least 10%. While the company already has a long history and a strong market presence, the Stifel team's bullish view is driven by the fresh growth opportunity in a $200 billion non-athletic footwear market. Like Jefferies, they expect strong top-line prints and margins in the quarters ahead. 

These calls, along with the 20% rally currently underway, are a distinct departure from the negative headlines that came out during the first week of trading. It's been a bad year for IPOs in general, with Arm Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARM), for example, IPO'ing in September and almost immediately sinking 30%. It was the same for Instacart (NASDAQ: CART). You could argue that much of this is tied to the wider trading environment. A soft S&P 500 that was trending down since July wouldn't make the most pleasant of environments for a company to go public. 

But the benchmark index is itself having one of its best runs in months and is currently up 7% since the last week of October. This shift in sentiment is largely due to further positive signs that the Fed may have managed to thread the needle when it comes to taming inflation. This can only be a good thing for companies like Birkenstock that are very much on the consumer discretionary side of things.

Some caution urged

For all that, though, there has been some caution urged. Deutsche Bank is nonplussed with Birkenstock's growth potential and thinks it's fairly valued right around here. So, too, are the teams at Morgan Stanley and Piper Sandler, who gave the stock a Neutral rating. It seems like they're in a wait-and-see mood, but you can easily imagine this switching over to a full bullish view if the stock can move toward $50 or there are solid financial updates. 

The company has a lot going for it in that department, with its vertically integrated European manufacturing process particularly admired as it drives advantageous per-pair economics. If there are concerns about the company's current valuation, where Birkenstock is above its peers with a 16x 2024 EV/EBITDA print, Williams Trading analyst Sam Poser isn't too concerned. Considering how well the company has executed over the past ten years, delivering consistent sales growth and strong margins, he has no problem giving them a Buy rating even with a high multiple. 

Inser's price target of $55 might just be the highest out there right now and speaks volumes to the stock's upside potential. Even with the recent rally, that's pointing to a further upside of some 30%. For investors considering getting involved, watch for further momentum on the bid and a move to fresh highs, as this will likely unlock a fresh wave of buying, not to mention bullish calls from the street. 

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