What’s Going on with Lululemon?

It's no secret that Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ: LULU  ) has been having a hard time getting its zen on lately. The yoga wear company has repeatedly found itself in hot water over a bevy of less than favorable events. First there was the infamous incident of too-sheer yoga pants being sold at lululemon locations, and the gaffes didn't end there. Now, on the same day a new CEO has been announced, Lululemon's Founder and Chairman Chip Wilson announced plans to leave. Is this a sign for investors to jump ship from Lululemon, or could it mean that things might finally be turning around?

Chip on his shoulder
It's rare for a company's stock to go up after its founder tenders their resignation, but that's exactly what happened when Wilson announced his plans to step down. During pre-market trading on Dec. 10 the company's stock rose by as much as 2%. Lululemon's chairman had made a rather infamous name for himself by stating on Nov. 5 that, during the see-through pant and pilling controversy, the cause was "really about the rubbing through the thighs ." While Wilson's PR people had a collective anxiety attack, the apparel company's stock dropped following the gaffe. 

Wilson isn't the only lululemon exec who's vocalized plans to step down this year. Chief executive officer Christine Day previously issued a statement about her imminent exit in June, but she intended to wait for a suitable replacement before departing. As of Dec. 10 -the same day of Wilson's resignation, that would-be replacement has been found. 

Laurent Potdevin, formerly of TOMS Shoes, will assume Christine Days' role at the start of 2014 and become lululemon's new CEO. Given his record, he may just be the right man for the job. During his tenure at TOMS, Potdevin played a large part in international brand expansion, and also helped sports apparel brand Burton Snowboards grow significantly while serving as its president and chief operating officer. With combined total experience in a socially conscious apparel company, a sportswear business, and in the luxury industry (he started his career in 1991 at LVMH, home to Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy), Potdevin is well-suited to pick up the ball that Christine Day and Co. appear to have dropped.

Latest earnings
Despite being shaken by all that executive controversy, Lululemon has still seen a steady increase in recent sales. Last quarter, the company produced revenues of $344.5 million, which was 22% higher than  the same time last year. Diluted EPS clocked in at $0.39 per share, which was pretty much the same as in Q2 2012, even though Lulu held onto less net income than the prior year.

As if lululemon shareholders haven't had enough information to digest as of late, on Thursday, December 12, the company released its third quarter earnings. The company beat its earnings guidance by .04 per share with EPS of $0.45 on revenue of $379 Million which equates to a 20% increase over revenues from the same period last year. All in all a good report but unfortunately the share price fell on the news due to lackluster guidance provided by the company for its fourth quarter. 

The future is not see-through
While Laurent Potdevin has the necessary work experience to be a good lululemon CEO on paper, only time will tell how he measures up to Christine Day and the company's founder Chip Wilson. While its third quarter earnings results and the guidance the company provided weren't to shareholders' liking, a new era of executive leadership is on the way so the jury truly is out on the company for the immediate future. Given Thursday's drop, and the fact that lululemon now has a new CEO now might be the time to take a closer look at the yoga retailer and consider adding a position. As always, Foolish investors should do their own research before making any investment decisions. 

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  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2013, at 5:04 PM, NotAfoolHere wrote:

    some good logic and further information on the future CEO

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2013, at 1:07 PM, NotAfoolHere wrote:

    "Our sales guidance assumes a flat comparable store sales percentage increase on a constant dollar basis, compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. Ecommerce is performing better than expected and including ecommerce, our guidance for the fourth quarter would give an 8% combined comp."

    8% combined comp is a great figure for growth

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