Bebe up; Morgan Keegan upgrade cites new spring line |

Bebe up; Morgan Keegan upgrade cites new spring line

NEW YORK – Bebe Stores Inc. stock rose Friday after Morgan Keegan & Co. upgraded the women’s fashion retailer to “outperform” from “market perform” based on its stock price and its spring line.Shares of Bebe rose $1.63, or 11 percent, to $16.03 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.”We are pleased with the new spring assortment, which is the first line we have seen during the past six months with a significant amount of newness,” said Morgan Keegan analyst Holly Guthrie.Bebe markets apparel under the Bebe, Bebe Sport and Bebe O brand names through 173 Bebe Stores, 20 Bebe outlets and 35 Bebe Sport stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.The upgrade couldn’t come at a better time for the Brisbane, Calif., company as it tries to recover from hitting a 52-week share price low of $13.05 on Jan. 6 – one day after Bebe reported that December sales at stores open more than a year rose only 1.1 percent.Despite Friday’s gain, the shares still traded at just over half their July 13 value of $30.97 – the 52-week high.Guthrie said Bebe’s spring line is notably different than its holiday product mix, and should drive higher customer traffic.In addition, Bebe is accelerating store openings to expand its square footage by 15 percent to 16 percent per year for the next three to four years, Guthrie said.Morgan Keegan makes a market in the stock.Vail, Colorado

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