Shares of Hudson Ltd. (NYSE:HUD) took a dive last month after the operator of travel-based convenience stores said its CEO suddenly departed, though he was immediately replaced by the chief operating officer. The company also reported preliminary earnings results, though the surprise of the CEO change was the main reason the stock gave up 25% in January, as measured by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
As you can see from the chart below, the stock plunged on Jan. 9 on the news, and continued to slide from there:
Hudson, which operates about 1,000 stores in airports, bus and train terminals, and other such locations, said that CEO Joseph DiDomizio was stepping down to pursue other interests and was being replaced by Roger Fordyce.
Sometimes when a CEO leaves a company suddenly, it can signal accounting problems, ethics concerns, or some other kind of red flag. There’s no other indication of such a problem with Hudson, but DiDomizio spearheaded the company’s initial public offering last year, and guided the company as revenue nearly tripled from 2008 (when he became CEO). Fordyce brings plenty of experience to the table, as he’s been with Hudson for 30 years, serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Still, investors were rattled by the announcement and the stock fell 12% on the news.
Following that, Hudson gave preliminary fourth-quarter guidance, saying that comparable sales increased 1.7% in the quarter, or 2.5% in constant currency, though that was slower than the rest of the year. The stock fell modestly on that report.
Hudson stock is now down nearly 50% from its peak last fall, and off nearly 30% from its IPO price of $19 a share. Assuming there’s no scandal involving DiDomizio’s departure, the stock looks like a good buy after last month’s sell-off. Hudson has something of a monopoly in retail, as its contracts allow it to operate essentially without competition in airports and other travel hubs, and it’s been able to deliver steady comparable-sales growth as the nature of its business protects it from e-commerce.
Hudson will soon present its full fourth-quarter earnings report, expected later this month. Analysts see earnings per share at $0.15, and revenue increasing 4.1%, which compares to the 4.5% growth in the preliminary report.
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