Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Yih-Tennant, who downgraded the company's shares to "neutral" from "buy," attributed the ratings change not only to Murphy's departure, but also to "product weakness" at the Gap label, which she said could extend into spring 2015. The brand accounts for just under 40 percent of Gap's global sales, Yih-Tennant said.
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Boruchow, who had recently named Gap as his top retail pick for the second half of the year, sounded a similar note. He had been looking to the company's fall floorset—the first under its entire new design team—to potentially be the "harbinger of a turnaround."
"It's no secret that Gap's bread and butter is basics, but we believe designer Rebekka Bay's team has so far been unable to inject the assortment with the type of excitement that incites customers to buy," he said.
Still, other analysts took the news more in stride. Stifel Nicolaus' Richard Jaffe maintained his "buy" rating on the company, saying that sometimes change is good.
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"Certainly, the easiest and biggest gains came early in Mr. Murphy's tenure, but clearly, further gains were proving much more difficult to achieve," he said.
Canaccord Genuity's Laura Champine also maintained her "buy" rating, saying she was not surprised by Peck's selection given his experience spearheading digital initiatives—a key focus for the company.
"In addition to building a stronger e-commerce presence, we believe Gap's online initiatives such as reserve in store will become traffic and sales drivers across all channels," she said.