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Can Lululemon's Stock Price Reverse Its Downward Dog?


UBS analyst Roxanne Meyer wrote in a Jun 10 research note that while the first-quarter comparisons will benefit from last year's recall-fueled pant shortage, "we believe slower moving core product, a lack of compelling fashion during most of [first quarter] and poor weather kept a lid on comps."

Lululemon, of course, was hammered by bad publicity after it was forced a year ago to recall its popular Luon pant over sheerness complaints. A few months later, following customer complaints about "pilling" on the yoga pants, Wilson arguably made matters much worse for the company when he said in an interview that: "Quite frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work for it."

Wilson further added to a picture of Lululemon's instability fuel to the public relations fire on Wednesday by releasing a statement telling that he had voted against the re-election of the company's two outside directors - Lululemon's chairman and a former Starbucks (SBUX) executive, Michael Casey, and private equity executive RoAnn Costin Wilson. Lululemon is holding its annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"While I am excited about the new management team that I helped put in place, I am concerned that the board is not aligned with the core values of product and innovation on which Lululemon was founded and on which the company thrived," Wilson said in the statement.

Wilson, who had resigned as Lululemon's chief innovation and branding officer in January 2012, had continued to serve as chairman. Following last year's pant recall, he oversaw the company's management shakeup, which included replacing Day with Potdevin, who has had brand and management experience at Louis Vuitton, Burton Snowboards and most recently as the president of TOMS Shoes. Potdevin started in his new position in January. Wilson said in December at the time of the new CEO announcement that he would be leaving the chairman position and replaced by Casey.

"I was hopeful that we would be able to create a balance at lululemon between product and growth that would complement each other," Wilson said. "Instead, I have found a palpable imbalance in board representation, which is heavily weighted towards short-term results at the expense of product, culture and brand and longer-term corporate goals. I believe this is impacting the company's prospects. My vote today sends a signal to the financial community that the company must address this imbalance if lululemon is to fully recover."

The women's activewear category is becoming increasingly competitive as the product becomes part of the mainstream. Activewear represents one of the fastest apparel categories in the U.S., Wells Fargo analyst Paul Lejuez wrote in a May 30 note, citing NPD, a consumer research firm. With names like Under Armour (UA), Nike (NKE) and retailers like Gap's (GPS) Athleta all playing in Lululemon's space, it will be especially difficult for the yoga apparel maker to reclaim its reign.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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