Plano, TX—Just about four months after former board member and hedge fund owner William Ackman sold his stake in JCPenney after he called for CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman to be replaced, an investment research firm today speculated that Ullman may be positioning himself to leave—or even could get pushed out of JCPenney.
Responding to the retailer’s news this week that it would be laying off 2,000 employees and closing 33 stores, JCPenney’s strategy once again is under the microscope.
“Recent announcement hardly match up with a company that has confidence in its future,” wrote Hedgeye, an investment research firm to its clients.
Of Ullman, who returned to the chief executive position after the 17-month tenure of ousted CEO Ron Johnson, Hedgeye stated: “We’d like to think that accepting the role of Chair of the Federal Reserve of Dallas, and then being elected to the Board of the National Retail Federation is his way of moving off to the next stage in his career. The reality is that being CEO of JCP is easily two-full time jobs, and one of the most challenging roles in Corporate America. JCP’s board had to approve these outside assignments, and we can’t imagine that they’d do so if they thought he was going to be a long-timer.”
But if Ullman isn’t setting himself up to depart soon, then Hedgeye believes it’s time for a change at the retailer.
“The answer here is for Ullman to jump ship (or get pushed off). The Board has to take action. The company needs a permanent leader. Ullman already made good progress to stabilize the company. We’ll give him that. Seriously. Golf clap for Mike. But it’s time for the next phase of JCP, and he’s not the guy to lead. Not by a long shot. “
Hedgeye is one of JCPenney’s supporters “until the cows come home, because all of our research tells us that the value is there.”
Nonetheless, Hedgeye advises that JcPenney installs a new “powerful and appropriate leader.”
JCPenney declined comment on the speculation.