We have a mixed read on this morning’s announcement of the new CEO at Juicy Coture (Paul Blum – from Kenneth Cole and David Yurman). On one hand, McComb has been looking to fill the co-president role alongside Chief Creative Officer LeAnn Nealz for the past year. As such, this announcement caps a very long recruitment process. That’s a positive. On the flip side, we’ve gotta think that before Blum accepted the job he looked McComb in the eye and asked for a certain commitment in time and resources to get this company back on track. We previously thought that another miss at Juicy would come alongside an announcement of a sale. Now we think that process will be longer dated. They’ll give the new CEO time. That’s a negative. We still think that the brand will be either fixed or sold, and we’re still at $0.95 in F14 – which is nearly 2x the consensus. But the timing of the catalyst calendar has been extended.
Here are our thoughts on the move:
- Decision Tree re Juicy: We see three potential outcomes for Juicy, #1: business improves – FNP keeps it, #2: business erodes – FNP sells it, or #3: business sputters along – FNP keeps it. As we highlighted in our note on 10/2 “FNP: Take 2,” we think the odds are likely that FNP sells Juicy. What has changed by this announcement is timing. Our original view of a sale by next summer is more likely now by the end of 2013. If fundamentals erode further over the near-term, the company now has an excuse to see its strategy through for another quarter or two more than it may have previously. But it does beg the question on timing – why spend money now if they are planning to sell?
- Setup into ICR: As it relates to our view on the setup headed into ICR (mid January) where we expect the company to provide an updated brand outlook, the likelihood of an early divestiture announcement (i.e. at ICR) has been greatly reduced. This was simply a call option on the stock near-term, not the driver behind the run since 3Q results. Driving performance over the past month is confirmation that FNP is taking square footage growth materially higher at Kate and Lucky (see our note “FNP: Juicing Kate” on 10/25).
- Productivity: Both CEO Bill McComb and CFO George Carrera have been spending a disproportionate amount of time on Juicy focusing on stemming losses versus higher growth aspects of the business. The hire of Blum enables senior management to recalibrate their focus at the same time they just announced significantly more aggressive square footage growth plans at Kate and Lucky.
- Fit/Background: Blum is no stranger to designer driven companies having served in the CEO role at both David Yurman (2005-2010) and most recently at Kenneth Cole after a 15-year stint at KCP prior to Yurman. Importantly, like FNP’s other two brands Kate Spade and Lucky, the co-president structure is the norm rather than the exception at FNP.
All in, this moves doesn’t change our view that Juicy will be sold. However, we do think it will buy management some time from having to make a more definitive comment on the brand’s future over the near-term at ICR. In the meantime, senior management can focus on higher ROI initiatives i.e. growing Lucky and Kate Spade. FNP continues to be one of our top long ideas.