Weight Watchers' stock jumps after J.P. Morgan backs off from bearish stance

Shares of Weight Watchers International Inc. WW, +6.17% surged 3.5% in premarket trading Thursday, after J.P. Morgan analyst Christina Brathwaite said she was no longer bearish on the weight management and wellness company, citing her belief that subscriber trends have stabilized. Brathwaite raised her rating to neutral, after being at underweight since Feb. 19, and lifted her stock price target to $22 from $17. “We believe that steps taken to redirect the marketing message to dieting have worked to stabilize recruitment trends,” Brathwaite wrote in a note to clients. “We believe investors are beginning to look past the expected ~50% earnings decline this year and instead focus on the potential growth opportunity in 2020 following the launch of a new diet program at the end of this year.” The stock has rallied 18.2% over the past three months, but was still down 43.4% year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.51% has gained 15.1% this year.

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