Ulta Salon CEO resigns to join Michaels Stores, Ulta shares fall 13 pct

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:01am EST

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Beauty products retailer Ulta Salon Cosmetics and Fragrance Inc said Chief Executive Chuck Rubin will step down to join Michaels Stores Inc, North America's largest arts and craft retailer, sending Ulta Salon's shares down as much as 13 percent.

Rubin's departure follows the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Bruce Hartman in October.

Credit Suisse, which downgraded Ulta Salon to "neutral" from "outperform", said Rubin's departure after more than two years at the helm had created near-term uncertainty for the company.

"It is difficult for us to have an 'outperform' on a company missing a full time CEO and full time CFO. Until those positions are filled, we prefer to be on the sidelines," Credit Suisse analysts led by Gary Balter wrote in a note to clients.

Ulta Salon's sales have risen 22 percent since Ruben became CEO in September 2010, while its stock jumped four-fold. Non-Executive Chairman Dennis Eck has been appointed interim CEO.

Michaels Stores said Rubin, whose resignation takes effect on Feb. 21, will assume his new role after an unspecified period of transition, during which the company will discontinue the office of the CEO.

The office of the CEO was set after Michaels CEO John Menzer suffered a stroke in April 2012.

Bolingbrook, Illinois-based Ulta Salon's shares were down 12 percent at $88.00 in mid-morning trading on the Nasdaq. The stock, which touched a low of $86.90, was one of the top percentage losers on the exchange.

Bain Capital Partners and Blackstone Group are major investors in Michaels.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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