Analyst: Active Brands and Specialty Retailers Among Top Retail Picks

Nike is among Jane Hali & Associates' top stock picks for this year.

In a just-released report from investment research firm Jane Hali & Associates, analysts at the firm used its proprietary model to select brands and retailers “best positioned” to succeed this year, which included Nike, Lululemon, Target Corp. and L Brands Inc., among many others.

Jane Hali, chief executive officer of the firm, said some of the notable trends to look out for include the ongoing growth of the wellness and “street and skate” trends as well as “denim as a fashion choice.”

In wellness, Hali said it remains a consumer focus and added that “sport lifestyle will continue with brands/retailers responding with more sophisticated activewear, sneakers and experiential spaces. We believe athletic footwear will continue to outperform as performance takes a backseat to fashion.”

Aligned with this trend and positioned to leverage it are brands and retailers such as Finish Line, L Brands, Lululemon, Kohl’s, Target, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Hanesbrands, DSW Inc., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta Beauty, Gap Inc., Urban Outfitters’ Free People brand, VF Corp. and H&M.

With the street and skate trend, Hali noted that the “success of brands like Supreme and Palace has made the skateboarding culture more mainstream. Streetwear is fashion. Items such as graphic Ts, skinny skateboarding jeans, sweats, caps, jackets and sneakers are all part of it.” She said that streetwear used to be only for men, but “Adidas just signed its first female skateboarder, Nora Vasconcellos, to its roster of pro skateboard ambassadors.” Other brands well-positioned for this trend includes Nike, VF Corp. (with Vans), Hanesbrands (Champion), Zumiez and Urban Outfitters.

On the denim front, Hali said it “has returned as a fashion choice as the comfort level has changed with increased stretch. The preference by consumers remains for a slimmer leg (straight, skinny, slim). Since comfort is important across all leg shapes, we are also seeing a higher/natural waist design.”

Expected winners here include American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, PVH Corp. and VF Corp. (with Lee and Wrangler).

Other notable trends include the continued impact of influencers and social media. Hali said the question for retailers and brands “is which type of influencer will convert sales.” Experiential shopping and personalization also remain important this year, Hali said, adding that implementing and touting sustainable practices is key — especially for resonating with Millennials and generations Y and Z.

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