Ross Stores Inc. was upgraded to outperform from market perform at Cowen & Co., and its price target raised to $63 from $55. The bank says retail is shifting to off-price stores and Ross's "strong assortment of bargains" and the improved state of the moderate-to-low income shopper are working in the retailer's favor. Ross Stores and other off-price stores are gaining share from full-price retailers, which are suffering from weak mall traffic, disappointing same-store sales numbers, issues tied to unseasonable weather and are closing locations, Cowen wrote in a note. Off-price retailers avoid risks associated with competing with Amazon.com Inc. because of the "treasure hunt" experience of shopping off-price, Cowen said, and Ross has customer loyalty and millennial appeal to position it well against Amazon. Ross shares are up 12.4% for the year so far while the S&P is down 2.6% for the same period.
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