JP Morgan Downgrades Timberland

Analyst Noelle Grainger says the boot business will be tough in 2004 with retailers indicating a consumer preference shift back to athletic footwear

Timberland (TBL ) shares fell after JP Morgan downgraded to underweight from neutral.

Analyst Noelle Grainger says with many footwear retailers indicating early stages of consumer preference shift back to performance athletic footwear, she thinks the boot business will be tough in 2004. She says as a market leader, Timberland is likely to feel this industry pressure and meet with resistance in its effort to gain U.S. market share if shelf space is moving away from the category.

Based on channel checks, she believes boot sales were mixed this holiday, with heavy promotions, and weekly market shares indicate Timberland's shares were only up slightly for the year. Grainger kept her $3.55 2094 EPS estimate.

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