Home Mutual Funds Under Armour Stock Sank on CEO’s Return—How Have Other CEO Comebacks Affected Shares?

Under Armour Stock Sank on CEO’s Return—How Have Other CEO Comebacks Affected Shares?

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Key Takeaways

  • So-called “boomerang CEOs” are executives who return to lead a company for a second time after previously stepping down (or being fired) from the role.
  • Companies may choose to bring back prior CEOs during times of crisis or when they want to eliminate onboarding time with a leader well aware of the firm.
  • Some examples of successful boomerang CEOs have included Steve Jobs of Apple and Howard Schultz of Starbucks, both of whom helped to rescue their companies from poor performance.
  • A 2020 study by MIT’s Sloan School of Management found, however, that boomerang CEOs tended to significantly underperform their counterparts, with annual stock performance about 10% lower.

Shares of Under Armour (UAA) fell 10% after the company announced this week that founder Kevin Plank will return as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as of April 1, replacing Stephanie Linnartz. Analysts at Evercore ISI were among the first to downgrade the stock on the news, saying that the shift in leadership indicates prior growth strategies were not working and that anticipated new initiatives could pose “significant risk to the brand longer-term.”

Plank is far from the first former CEO to return to lead a company after a time away, and the reaction of the market is not always consistent. Below, we look at some other recent examples of former CEOs returning to leadership position and how stocks (and companies) have been affected by the transition.

Apple: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs at the 2010 Apple World Wide Developers conference.

One of the most famous examples of a so-called “boomerang CEO” coming back to a company they previously helmed is Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple (AAPL). Jobs was forced out of the leadership position in 1985 by the board, and the company spent the next decade posting poor financial results and cycling through executives. In dire straits, Apple eventually acquired Jobs’ new company, NeXT Computer, and the cofounder returned to the position of CEO in 1997.

In the summer of 1985, around the time of Jobs’ departure, shares—adjusted for stock splits—traded for about $0.07 each. In late 1998, about a year after his return, they traded for $0.31 per share. Jobs famously led Apple to become one of the largest and most influential companies in the world. When he stepped down in 2011 for health reasons, shares had climbed to close to $14 each, and now they trade for more than 10 times that amount.

Starbucks: Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz speaks during the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in 2015.

Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

Howard Schultz was CEO of Starbucks (SBUX) when the company went public in 1992. The stock sold for $17 per share during the company’s IPO. Schultz stepped down from the executive role in 2000 to serve as global strategist.

In the 2000s, Starbucks expanded rapidly and changed its brand considerably. Successive leaders instituted automated espresso machines and a new, streamlined aesthetic to stores. However, weakening customer traffic prompted shares to fall to just $8 in Nov. 2008 from around $40 two years prior.

Schultz returned to lead Starbucks from 2008 to 2017, during which time the share price climbed to well over $50. He also served as interim CEO from 2022 to 2023.

Disney: Bob Iger

Bob Iger speaks during the New York Times annual DealBook summit in November 2023.

Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Bob Iger was CEO of The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) from 2005 to 2020, at which point he became executive chairman and chairman of the board. Iger returned to the role of CEO in Nov. 2022 and remains in that position at this time.

During Iger’s first tenure as CEO, he helped to develop the company into a global entertainment giant by acquiring major brands including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. His successor, Bob Chapek, took control of the company at the start of the COVID pandemic, a time in which Disney was forced to shutter theme parks and cruises around the world. Chapek also oversaw the company during a heated back-and-forth with the star of its Black Widow film, Scarlett Johansson, who sued the firm over its simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases of the movie, and in similarly tense exchanges with the Florida government.

Disney shares fell from about $190 in March 2021 to below $92 by Nov. 2022, when Iger returned. Since that time, shares have partially recovered to about $112 each.

Procter & Gamble: A.G. Lafley

A.G. Lafley speaks at the International Institute of Research Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston in 2008.

Mike Adaskaveg / MediaNews Group /Boston Herald / Getty Images

A.G. Lafley was CEO of Procter & Gamble (PG) from 2000 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2015. Lafley’s first tenure as leader saw a dramatic uptick in success for its innovation pipeline and the establishment of key brands like Tide on a global scale. Along the way, Lafley guided the company to more than double its share price to the mid-$60 range.

Lafley’s successor, Bob McDonald, oversaw a rockier period in which P&G lowered its profit forecasts multiple times. In 2013, pressure from activist investor Bill Ackman helped to prompt McDonald to resign from the role, and Lafley returned.

Lafley’s return prompted many analysts to speculate about a “Steve Jobs-like sequel,” as the company hoped the seasoned CEO would be able to provide stability. However, this did not come to pass: P&G experienced generally lackluster performance during Lafley’s second round as CEO, and the stock price essentially remained flat over his two-year return.

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