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Moments before Avon Products Inc. annual shareholders meeting began on Thursday morning, several attendees whispered, “It’s so quiet,” and received a response from one staffer, “That’s how we like it.”
Last year at this time, the company was fending off an unwanted takeover bid from Coty Inc. and had recently replaced its embattled chief executive officer Andrea Jung with Johnson & Johnson veteran Sheri McCoy. Jung had introduced McCoy to shareholders last year at this meeting. This time around, McCoy commanded the podium solo — save for brief comments by Avon’s newly named chairman Doug Conant. The board appointed Conant to the chairman post on April 26, following the resignation of Fred Hassan.
“Sheri has the right stuff to get the job done with distinction,” Conant told shareholders.
It wasn’t the only praise McCoy received. During the meeting one investor, who referred to 2012 as a “nightmare” — particularly when Avon’s share price dipped below $14 — nodded to the new management team and early signs of progress, including its bolstered stock price. “Thank you. Keep it up,” he told McCoy.
Avon’s share price reached a 52-week high of $24.30 on Tuesday morning, after the company reported adjusted net income of 26 cents a diluted share, beating Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimate of 14 cents a share.
At the annual meeting on Thursday, shareholders voted on six proposals, including one presented by The Green Century Equity Fund. The proposal called for Avon to review and issue a report on the safety of ingredients used in its products. Green Century said that failure to do so could result in financial and reputational risk for Avon. “We want to turn this company around. This is the future. This is where we want to go,” a spokesman for Green Century told fellow shareholders.
McCoy reiterated Avon’s previous response to the proposal, saying “Avon has a global product safety standard that often exceeds country-specific regulatory requirements.”
The proposal was the only one not approved by shareholders.