CEO Exodus: Here’s What Happens to a Company’s Stock Price When There’s Turnover at the Top

The CEO exodus continues.

On Tuesday, two prominent retail companies—Nike and Under Armour—announced their CEOs were stepping down. Nike’s long time CEO Mark Parker will be handing over the reigns in 2020 (but stay on as executive chairman), while Under Armour’s founder and CEO Kevin Plank will resign but remain the struggling clothing company’s executive chairman and brand chief.

While neither departure was inundated with controversy, investors seemed a bit skittish on the news—with Nike’s and Under Armour’s stocks closing down some 3.4% and 2.6% respectively on Wednesday.

Still, a bit of post-executive-departure jitters isn’t anything new in the markets. In fact, according to data compiled by YCharts, an investment research platform, companies whose CEOs departed saw their stocks’ returns drop an average of 4.19% in the 30 days following compared to the S&P 500. However, in most cases, the companies’ stocks recovered over the long term, up an average 11.53% after 1 year compared to the S&P 500.

One factor you might think would impact how stocks react to an executive departure is, of course, the nature of the departure—namely, if it was unexpected or on good terms. However, according to YChart’s analysis, historically, companies whose CEOs departed unexpectedly didn’t necessarily perform worse than those whose executives left on good terms. In fact, out of the five companies with unexpected CEO departures that were analyzed (Intel, Papa Johns, Texas Instruments, CBS and Tyson Foods all in 2018, according to data), only two had negative returns in the following 30 days.

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