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Here's one retailer that may survive the Amazon onslaught because its customers are so loyal

  • Jefferies says Ulta Beauty's loyalty program and unique customer experience will enable the cosmetics retailer to compete with Amazon.
  • The store's "model is defensible," the firm's analyst said.
  • Ulta shares are down 9.1 percent year to date through Tuesday versus the S&P 500's 9.5 percent return.
ULTA Beauty gift bag of products.
Brian Ach | Getty Images
ULTA Beauty gift bag of products.

Ulta Beauty shareholders should not lose hope despite a difficult year, according to one Wall Street firm.

Jefferies reiterated its buy rating on the cosmetics retailer, saying the company's business model is "defensible" against the rising threat of e-commerce.

"Multi-brand online specialists like Amazon and direct-to-consumer businesses from brands are known threats to Ulta's rate of growth," analyst Stephanie Wissink wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. Ulta's "model is defensible [with its] emphasis on services, curation, experience, and loyalty."

Ulta shares are down 9.1 percent year to date through Tuesday versus the S&P 500's 9.5 percent return. Wissink reaffirmed her $350 price target for Ulta Beauty, representing 51 percent upside from Tuesday's close.

She noted that the company's loyalty program now has 24.5 million members that account for 90 percent of Ulta's sales.

"We think this is under appreciated by the market — the proportion of comp [comparable sales] tied to loyalty and the growth in loyalty still yet to be achieved," she wrote.

In addition, Ulta has a strong future in e-commerce, according to the analyst. She predicts Ulta's online sales will grow 30 percent.

"Ulta has one of the more robust CRM's [customer relationship management] and tapping this database to ensure replenishment on Ulta.com (vs. elsewhere) is an opportunity," she wrote.

Wissink predicts the retailer will still be able to generate earnings per share growth of more than 20 percent.

Ulta Beauty is slated to report its second-quarter earnings results on Thursday.

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