Ahead of the Bell: Analyst downgrades bebe

Analyst cuts rating, price target on bebe as President Emilia Fabricant resigns

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lowered her rating and price target on bebe stores Inc. on Monday following the resignation of President Emilia Fabricant.

The women's clothing company announced Fabricant's resignation on Friday, saying that it was for personal reasons. Bebe said that Fabricant's duties will be taken over by Chairman and CEO Manny Mashouf and Renee Bell, the company's head of merchandising.

Adrienne Tennant of Janney Capital Markets said that part of her positive view on the company was based on the belief that Fabricant's merchandising and retail experience could help bebe over time. Fabricant joined the women's specialty retailer two years ago.

"When we see key members of management leave, we typically reassess the backdrop for our investment thesis," the analyst wrote in a client note.

Tennant feels that the near-term likelihood of bebe's stock rising is limited, due to management changes, tough competition, difficult economic conditions and product inconsistency.

The company is scheduled to report earnings later this week.

The analyst cut bebe to "Neutral" from "Buy" and reduced the Brisbane, Calif. company's price target to $6 from $7. The stock closed at $6.27 on Friday, closer to the low end of its 52-week trading range of $5.35 to $9.58.

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