Jefferies analysts nearly doubled their price target on Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY.O) this week, taking the opposite view from other brokerages on the same day the struggling retailer disclosed it had tapped Jefferies investment bankers for a stock sale.
Brokerages typically have a strict separation between equity analysts covering companies and investment bankers working for them. There is no suggestion that Jefferies’ research note on Bed Bath and the bank’s hiring by the company were related.
In a note published on Wednesday, Jefferies analyst Jonathan Matuszewski raised his price target on Bed Bath to $9 from $5, citing confidence in the company’s cost cutting measures that include job cuts and store closings.
That is the highest price target on Bed Bath’s stock among the 16 analysts who cover it that are tracked by Refinitiv, with the median price target currently listed as $3.
On Thursday, Raymond James, another brokerage, downgraded Bed Bath to “underperform” from “market perform.”
“We find it challenging to even maintain our neutral rating given the current trends of the business and ongoing cash burn,” Raymond James analyst Bobby Griffin wrote in a note.
Bed Bath also disclosed on Wednesday it had hired Jefferies to sell 12 million shares in the open market. Jefferies is entitled to a commission of up to 3% of the amount sold, according to a regulatory filing.
Jefferies and Bed Bath representatives did not respond to requests for comment. Bed Bath shares ended trading down 8.6% at $8.71 on Thursday.
Investors view Bed Bath as one of the so-called “meme” stocks, shares that trade primarily based on social media hype rather than their economic fundamentals. This is not the first time Jefferies analysts have taken a bullish view on a meme stock that is out of sync with the rest of Wall Street.
In March 2021, Jefferies analysts raised their price target on video game retailer GameStop Corp’s (GME.N) stock to $175 from $15, citing the company’s pivot to online sales. The price target was far higher than the $25 median among seven analysts covering the company at time, according to Refinitiv. As with Bed Bath, Jefferies was handling GameStop’s stock sale program at the time.
GameStop shares traded as high as $302.56 in June 2021. They ended trading on Thursday at $27.63, equivalent to $110.52, accounting for a four-for-one share split last July. The last price target change from Jefferies on GameStop was in June, before the share split, from $90 to $110, Refinitiv data shows.