Why the Ralph Lauren CEO Departure Might Be a Blessing in Disguise

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Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) shares hit a new multiyear low on Thursday after the company reported its most recent earnings and the departure of its chief executive officer. Ralph Lauren’s stock has not been at this price level since 2010.

First and foremost, both the company and Stefan Larsson, president and CEO, announced that they have mutually agreed to part ways effective May 1, 2017. Reportedly, Larsson and the founder were clashing in terms of their view on what direction the company should growth and evolve.

Larsson took the CEO position at Ralph Lauren in November 2015. Just a year prior, the stock was at record highs, and since that time shares have only dropped to a now multiyear low. This departure might be a blessing in disguise.

Ralph Lauren will continue to execute the Way Forward plan announced back in June 2016, and Chief Financial Officer Jane Nielsen will lead this plan until a new CEO joins the company. The company expects its fiscal 2017 restructuring activities to result in roughly $180 million to $220 million of annualized expense savings from this plan.

The company posted $1.86 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.71 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, Ralph Lauren reported EPS of $2.27 and $1.95 billion in revenue. Analysts were calling for $1.64 in EPS and revenue of $1.71 billion.

The company reported its business segments as follows:

  • Wholesale segment revenue fell by 26% to $582 million and was down 25% on a constant currency basis.
  • Retail segment revenue decreased 2% on both a reported and constant currency basis to $1.1 billion, driven by a decline in comparable store sales.
  • Licensing segment revenue of $44 million in the third quarter declined 4% on both a reported and a constant currency basis.

As for the outlook in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company expects consolidated net revenues down mid-teens on a reported basis. The consensus estimate for the current quarter calls for $1.56 billion in revenues.

Larsson commented on the quarter:

This quarter, we continued to drive the execution of the Way Forward plan — refocusing and evolving our iconic product core, cutting our lead times, and aligning supply with demand — to put the foundation in place to drive demand back to the business.

Share of Ralph Lauren were last seen down over 11% at $77.25, with a consensus analyst price target of $101.39 and a 52-week trading range of $76.86 to $114.00.