February 24, 2009 / 3:58 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Goldman "cautious" on athletic apparel, footwear sector

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs started coverage of the athletic apparel and footwear segment with a “cautious” rating, reflecting the brokerage’s concerns about growth, macroeconomic pressure and inventory.

“Things have been bad, but can get worse,” Goldman said in a note to clients.

Goldman said it expects only limited near-term success with diversification in the sector and though emerging markets are a clear long-term opportunity, there were near-term drags.

Reducing store growth, currency headwinds and inventory growth exceeding sales growth in recent quarters are other concerns, it said.

The brokerage began coverage of Nike Inc (NKE.N) with a “neutral” rating, and Under Armour Inc (UA.N) and Columbia Sportswear Co (COLM.O) with a “sell” rating.

Though these stocks have declined over 50 percent from their highs, they have outperformed other discretionary consumer sectors and valuation appears stretched, Goldman said.

For Goldman’s price target and rating on the companies, double-click [ID:nWNAB6104] .

Shares of Nike were trading at $41.01, while those of Under Armour were at $13.25 Tuesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. Columbia Sportswear shares were trading at $27.89 on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Pratish Narayanan)

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