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American Eagle Names Schottenstein Interim CEO

American Eagle Outfitters Inc., the the struggling teen-apparel retailer, said Chief Executive Officer Robert Hanson is leaving the company and Executive Chairman Jay Schottenstein will replace him on an interim basis.

Roger Markfield will postpone his retirement and continue to serve as vice chairman and executive creative director, Pittsburgh-based American Eagle said yesterday in a statement.

Like its peers, American Eagle is struggling as teens and parents pull back on apparel purchases. Sales at stores open at least a year, online and including its Aerie underwear brand fell 7 percent in the nine weeks ended Jan. 4, the company said earlier this month.

Changing the CEO now “is a very surprising move,” Simeon Siegel, a New York-based analyst at Nomura Securities International Inc., said in a phone interview. “Having to focus on a new transition is another thing to worry about.”

He has the equivalent of a hold rating on the shares.

American Eagle shares sank 7.8 percent to $13.19 at the close in New York. The stock tumbled 30 percent last year, compared with a 30 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

The chain, which is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on March 11, said that earnings will be 26 cents a share, at the low end of its forecast.

At least the company will have an experienced leader as it looks for a new CEO, Dorothy Lakner, a New York-based analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, said in a phone interview.

“It’s not as though there’s a void at the top,” said Lakner, who has a buy rating on the shares.

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