Deckers’ Stock Down, Analysts Mixed on Rishwain’s Departure

Deckers Brands’ stock price took a dip today following the company’s announcement that Connie Rishwain, president of Ugg Australia and Deckers’ Fashion & Lifestyle Brands, is leaving the company.

Rishwain’s impending departure — the company is mum on the timeline and transition strategy — has created quite the industry buzz, with analysts speculating on what led to the 20-year Decker veteran’s decision and what it might mean for the company as well as its Ugg Australia brand, which accounts for 84 percent of total sales.

“It appears to us that Ms. Rishwain’s decision to leave the company and ‘spend time with her family and pursue other interests’ after spending 20 years at Deckers was the result of the recent appointment of Dave Powers as president of Deckers,” Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser said in a note today. “We do not think that Ms. Rishwain wanted to report to someone new and was likely not pleased to be passed over for the job of president.”

Poser added that he thought Rishwain “did a great job growing the Ugg brand from under $200 million in 2006 to $1.5 billion in 2015.” However, Poser said, he “and a good number of retailers have felt that the Ugg brand needed more of an infusion of current fashion-right styles that have Ugg’s cozy-comfort attributes.”

Citi Research analysts Corinna Van der Ghinst and Kate McShane wondered how far into the future Rishwain’s exit will affect the company.

“While we are concerned by Rishwain’s departure … we think the timing for a transition could make sense as Ugg is completing its orders for the critical fall/winter season … and continues to transition to a more DTC-focused global strategy, as highlighted by Powers’ promotion from his previous roles heading up omnichannel and international,” Van der Ghinst and McShane said in a note today.

Van der Ghinst and McShane predict that the uncertainty regarding Ugg’s leadership and the potential disruption during the transition process might create a near-term headwind for the stock, as evidenced by today’s decline.

Poser agrees.

“The departure of Rishwain is likely going to be far worse for the stock in the near term than it will be for the company,” he said.

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