Iconix Shares Tumble After Longtime CEO Cole Leaves Company

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Iconix Brand Group Inc., owner of the Candie’s, Badgley Mischka and Joe Boxer clothing lines, fell the most in almost 13 years after saying Neil Cole is stepping down as chairman and chief executive officer.

Cole also is resigning as president and leaving the board, the New York-based company said Thursday in a statement. He’ll serve as a special adviser through Sept. 30. Board member Peter Cuneo has been appointed chairman and will serve as interim CEO.

The resignation leaves Iconix without the person who has led it since 2005, when he changed the company’s name from Candie’s Inc. and turned it into a clothing-brand manager and licenser instead of a manufacturer and seller.

Iconix’s revenue from its mature brands has slid in recent years, prompting the company to resort to asset sales and joint ventures to provide the “illusion” of growth, Eric Beder, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities, said Friday in a note. That strategy has become unsustainable, and the company will have to rebuild credibility with investors, he said.

“Given the current limited management experience and what will obviously be virtually no credibility to management in the near term, we are ‘throwing in the towel’ on Iconix,” Beder said. He cut his rating on the stock to hold from buy.

The shares tumbled 24 percent to $14.92 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day slide since September 2002. Iconix has now dropped 56 percent this year.