) to outperform from sector perform.
Analyst Carole Buyers says Columbia's risk/reward profile has improved since June. She thinks the sporting-apparel retailer's strong momentum continued through the holiday season. Buyer lists several factors that should result in earnings upside for the fourth quarter and 2004: high-margin sales of speculative fall outerwear inventory, the benefit of the weak U.S. dollar, conservative first-half 2004 estimates relative to the spring backlog, accretion potential from Mountain Hardwear, and the potential for a strong fall 2004 order backlog.
She raised the $3.33 2004 earnings per share estimate to $3.34. Buyers says the $69 target assumes a multiple of 18 times her $3.80 2005 earnings per share estimate.