Goldman Sachs & Co. applauded Roger Farah’s ascent to chairman at Tiffany & Co., but noted the company still has plenty of work to do, particularly on its high-end offering, and downgraded its stock.
Lindsay Drucker Mann, equity analyst at the bank, reduced her rating on the stock to neutral from buy and cut her 12-month target price to $94 from $106.
Tiffany’s shares fell as much as 4.1 percent in morning trading and settled at $87.22, off 2.9 percent, by lunchtime on Wall Street.
Mann noted: “We remain constructive that new leadership and product initiatives set the stage for accelerating top-line growth over time. However, fresh weakness in Tiffany’s highest price point categories leaves us concerned that the turnaround timeline is pushed further out.”
Late Thursday, Tiffany tapped Ralph Lauren-vet Farah to lead its board, replacing Michael Kowalski, former chief executive officer, who will remain a director.
Mann noted: “Mr. Farah brings valuable experience from his time ushering the Ralph Lauren business through a successful expansion period. We believe that he understands both luxury and accessible luxury and that he has a global perspective that should serve Tiffany well. At the same time, Mr. Kowalski will remain a director, ensuring continuity that should benefit the board given his longstanding knowledge of Tiffany’s business operations.”
Activists Jana Partners and former Bulgari ceo Francesco Trapani, which owned 5.1 percent of the firm combined, have been agitating for change — and has gotten it.
Earlier this year, Frederic Cumenal was ousted as ceo and Francesca Amfitheatrof left as creative director. They were ultimately replaced by former Bulgari executive Alessandro Bogliolo as ceo and former Coach creative director Reed Krakoff on the creative side.
Goldman’s Mann said the new team needs to focus on Tiffany’s luxe business.
“We are concerned that remedying troubles at the high-end marks a bigger challenge for a global luxury brand than kickstarting the pace of business at the low-end, which had the benefit of leveraging a high-end product halo,” she said.
But for now, Goldman advises stepping back while the new team gets to work.
“While we are constructive on the opportunity leadership changes bring over the medium-term, it will likely take some time before they have a material impact on the business,” Mann said.
More from WWD: