UPDATE 4-Lululemon CEO sets sights on accelerating growth; shares surge

Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:21pm EDT
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* Investors relieved situation not worse -analysts

* First European store to open next week in London

* 2014 seen as "investment year," aims to speed growth in Europe, Asia

* Shares rise 6 pct (Adds analyst comments, details on global expansion and competition, updates stock price)

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - Lululemon Athletica Inc's new chief executive pledged on Thursday to speed up the yogawear retailer's global expansion while avoiding missteps like last year's embarrassing recall of its trademark yoga pants, helping boost its once high-flying stock.

Investors, reassured by comments made during a conference call and more optimistic about Lululemon's long-term prospects, pushed its shares up as much as 10 percent on Thursday. The stock ended 6.2 percent higher at $51.20 on the Nasdaq.

"The guidance on the face of it seemed weak - below the consensus expectations that are out there - but I think there's a view that management is being conservative," said ITG Investment Research retail analyst Matthew Jacob.

He said there was also "a little bit of relief that trends could've been worse."   Continued...