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CFO Change Frays Jones Apparel

Shares slide after Morgan Stanley takes a bearish view of the executive departure.

Shares of

Jones Apparel


slipped Thursday after an analyst issued a negative take on news that the company's chief financial officer has departed.

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The clothing maker's stock sank $1.73, or 5.3%, to $30.80.

Jones Apparel, whose brands include Nine West, Barneys New York, and Gloria Vanderbilt, said late Wednesday that Thimio Sotos "resigned to pursue other opportunities." Jones named veteran company executive Wesley Card, 59, as Sotos' replacement.

Card, who joined the company in 1990, will also continue to serve as Jones' chief operating officer. He held both the CFO and operating chief roles from 2002 until last year, when the company split the positions.

Sotos joined the company in 1990 as part of the company's acquisition of Nine West Group, where he was assistant treasurer.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian McGough pointed out that Sotos' departure comes after directors Anthony Scarpa and Allen Questrom said in February that they would not stand for re-election at the company's annual shareholders meeting. McGough called Questrom, the former chairman and CEO of

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

, Jones Apparel's highest-profile director.

"While we're unsure if this news was sparked by changes to the underlying business, we still point out that

Jones Apparel had its highest-profile board member and its CFO leave with five weeks of one another," McGough wrote in a note. "We can't imagine that this happened because the company's prospects have turned for the better."

McGough also said CEO Peter Boneparth and the company jointly agreed not to renew the CEO's contract beyond March 31, 2009.

"Private equity walked away from the company, and we're hard pressed to think that that (Jones Apparel) can create greater value on is own," McGough wrote.