Buffalo Wild Wings shake-up sparks 'more questions than answers,' sending shares tumbling

  • Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings have dropped more than 16 percent since early June when CEO Sally Smith announced plans to resign.
  • Stephens' analyst Will Slabaugh says uncertainty surrounding the pending management shift is what has caused shareholder sentiment and the stock to plummet.
  • Slabaugh cut his 12-month price target to $145 per share from $195.
Source: Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings' proxy battle may be over, but a month later the company is still fighting to convince shareholders that it can forge a successful turnaround.

Shares of the company have fallen close to 20 percent since January, including more than 16 percent since early June, when CEO Sally Smith announced plans to resign by the end of the year.

In addition, investors voted in June to add three of activist investor Marcato's nominees, Scott Bergren, Sam Rovit and Mick McGuire, to the board.

"We believe that the proxy fight and subsequent management shake-up has instilled more questions than answers, with investors now left with a feeling of 'what now?' regarding the Company's future," Will Slabaugh, a Stephens' analyst, wrote in a research note Wednesday.

He downgraded the stock equal-weight from overweight and cut his 12-month price target to $145 per share from $195, sending shares down more than 3.5 percent on Wednesday.

Slabaugh said uncertainty surrounding the pending management shift is what has caused shareholder sentiment and the stock to plummet.

"Despite what was an initially positive investor response to the upcoming changes, we have some concerns around the market's reaction to what we expect to be a negative reset of earnings and comp guidance, along with rising uncertainty about the path forward," he wrote.

Slabaugh slashed his estimate for 2017 same-store sales, expecting them to be down 0.5 percent instead of up 0.9 percent. Similarly, he updated his EPS estimate to be $4.75 for the year, down from his initial forecast of $5.65.

"Considering the headwinds facing the Company, we would also like to see the direction in which the new CEO takes the Company, as well as a timeline for those changes before becoming more positive on the name," he said.