Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

American Eagle CEO out the Door

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

American Eagle CEO out the Door

Article excerpt

Quarter after quarter last year, American Eagle Outfitters CEO Robert Hanson had to report disappointing results and assure investors that the South Side-based teen clothing retailer was working aggressively to turn things around.

Other teen retailers were also having problems, but that didn't help the company's stock, which kept sliding lower.

On Wednesday as the markets closed, the company announced that Mr. Hanson would be leaving, effective immediately. "The board will initiate a search for a permanent chief executive officer," according to the company's announcement.

On an interim basis, the chief executive's role will be filled by Jay L. Schottenstein, the company's largest investor and executive chairman of the board.

In a sign meant to reassure the market that American Eagle is in good hands as it searches for a new CEO, the company said Roger S. Markfield, vice chairman and executive creative director, has agreed to postpone his planned retirement. Mr. Markfield, who joined American Eagle in 1993, has stepped in during previous challenging moments. Mr. Markfield was listed as 71 in a regulatory filing last April.

Still, the stock quickly slid in after-hours trading as investors heard the news. A year ago at this time, American Eagle shares had been trading above $20; they closed Wednesday at $14.31.

Just last week, Mr. Hanson told analysts at an investment conference that it had been a tough year. He said the macroeconomic climate was rough but admitted that American Eagle had caused some of its own problems.

"The first thing we want to talk about was execution because we did not execute as we should have in 2013 and we would attribute at least half of our underperformance to weak execution," he told the analysts. "That's across the assortment. Because in this business, product's everything."

Despite his disappointing reports, analysts seemed willing to give him time to improve things. …

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