U.S. Markets closed

Coty downgraded at Citi on concerns that turnaround will take more time than expected

Tonya Garcia

Coty Inc. was downgraded to sell from neutral at Citi on concerns that the turnaround the beauty company announced on Monday will take longer than many people expect. Analysts also slashed the price target to $10 from $14. Calling the downgrade "a little late" after shares plummeted 13.5% in Monday trading, Citi downgraded Coty to neutral in April. Now, analysts are worried that management is being "overly optimistic" about the health of its brands, that the company has a new area of weakness in its professional hair care business, where it has lost some distribution, and that the luxury fragrance growth driver could lose steam. JAB Holding Co. now owns more than 60% of Coty shares, and Citi analysts think the company could intervene. "While JAB has agreed to not increase its stake to more than ~69% over the next three years, we nonetheless consider this 'agreement' to be subject to change given JAB's effective control of the company and its board of directors," Citi said. "To the extent the turnaround plan at Coty does not take hold and have a positive effect, we think it is possible that JAB could decide to simply take the company private and fix its woes outside of the public eye." Coty stock is down 3.7% in Tuesday premarket trading, but up nearly 77% for the year to date. The S&P 500 index is up 18.3% for 2019 so far.