American Eagle Outfitters Inc. said after the market closed Wednesday that Chief Executive Robert Hanson has left his post after less than two years, a move that stunned Wall Street.
The teen apparel retailer said Executive Chairman Jay L. Schottenstein, who was previously chief executive from March 1992 through December 2002, will temporarily fill in for Hanson. The company said it will start looking for a permanent replacement.
Executive Creative Director Roger S. Markfield, who is also vice chairman, agreed to delay his planned retirement and continue in his current roles, according to American Eagle.
The retailer also reaffirmed its forecast for its fourth quarter.
The company did not specify why Hanson, who came on board in January 2012, was departing.
Analysts said they were surprised by the shakeup.
"He had been implementing meaningful and positive changes to the business," said Howard Tubin with RBC Capital Markets. "We are a fan of Mr. Hanson, and he was, generally speaking, liked by Wall Street."
Tubin wrote in a note to clients that American Eagle had a strong 2012 but that "business took a turn for the worse" last year, putting it "in the same boat as most other youth-oriented retailers."
But Tubin said he suspects that the company's board may have blamed Hanson for the retailer's struggles or perhaps was displeased with the brand's creative direction.
American Eagle shares fell 31 cents, or 2.1% to $14.31 during regular trading Wednesday and slipped 51 cents, or 4.6%, after hours.