Analysts Are Stunned By The American Eagle CEO's Mysterious Departure

Yesterday, American Eagle announced that CEO Robert Hanson would be leaving, effective immediately.

The curt statement by the company did not elaborate on why Hanson was departing his post or where he was going next.

Despite the fact that American Eagle’s sales fell 7% in the holiday season, Hanson’s departure has stunned and confused Wall Street analysts.

“We thought that Mr. Hanson had created a more reliable and stronger business model than ever before at the company,” Brean Capital analyst Eric Beder told MarketWatch. “We are highly disappointed in his departure.”

Other analysts said they liked Hanson’s strategy.

“He had been implementing meaningful and positive changes to the business,” Howard Tubin with RBC Capital Markets told the Los Angeles Times. “We are a fan of Mr. Hanson, and he was, generally speaking, liked by Wall Street.”

Another analyst told Reuters that the news was totally unexpected.

“There did not appear to be any sign of impending change when management openly interacted with investors last week,” Piper Jaffray analyst Stephanie Wissink said.

Hanson also appears to have been popular with associates.

One excited worker excitedly tweeted after he received a shout-out in a company memo:

Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors,, suggested that American Eagle’s board wants to completely reset the company strategy, leading to Hanson’s hasty departure.

Sozzi notes that the company has a new chief merchant starting in February, and has considered spinning off its Aerie lingerie business.

We contacted the company for additional comments about Hanson’s departure, but haven’t heard back.

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