Shares of home improvement retailer Lowe’s (LOW) jumped in pre-market trading after the company announced that its long-time chief executive officer will retire from the company.
SUCCESSION PLANS: Lowe’s said this morning that Chairman, CEO and President Robert Niblock will retire from the home improvement retailer as soon as the company is able to secure a successor. The board of directors has initiated a search for his successor, and in the interim Niblock will remain in his current role as chairman, president, and CEO. Niblock has been with Lowe’s for 25 years, including 13 years as chairman and CEO, and said in a statement that “I am confident that it is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership.” Marshall Larsen, lead director of Lowe’s board, also commented that “The board is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive search to identify the best candidate to serve as our next CEO.”
WHAT’S NOTABLE: Lowe’s Q4 sales beat consensus estimates but its weak margins caused earnings to miss consensus. At the time, Niblock said Lowe’s was “working diligently to improve execution with a focus on conversion, gross margin, and inventory management,” adding that “Given the rapidly evolving competitive landscape, we are also accelerating our strategic investments leveraging the benefits of tax reform. We continue to build the capabilities required to deliver simple and seamless experiences and strengthen our position as the omnichannel project authority.” Lowe’s faces competition in the home improvement retail space from Home Depot (HD), as well as online retailers including Amazon (AMZN). In January, Lowe’s announced the appointment of two independent directors to its board and plans to nominate a third following talks with activist investor D.E. Shaw. The activist believes the shares could triple if the company can better compete with Home Depot.