Activist investor Mick McGuire on Thursday suggested that UGG boots-maker Deckers Outdoor Corp. (DECK) - Get Report should consider spinning off smaller brands if it isn't successful at auctioning off the whole business.
"We are still just waiting to hear what if anything comes from that review process," McGuire said on CNBC TV. "Even in the absence of a sale of the overall business, we see a lot of opportunity to create a lot of shareholder value by focusing on their core UGG business, maximizing the profit margins and ... using the proceeds from exiting some of their non-core businesses and improving the profitability of the core UGG business to return capital to shareholders."
The comments come after McGuire on Sept. 13 escalated an ongoing battle with Deckers by seeking total control of the company's board in a move that he hopes will drive a serious auction process.
However, it is unclear if the UGG bootmaker could find a buyer at a price McGuire would be satisfied with. Analysts following Deckers have suggested that a sale does not appear to be materializing. It is possible that McGuire's suggestion to spin off some brands may be part of an effort to dampen expectations once a sale doesn't materialize.
The UGG brand makes up the largest chunk of Deckers Outdoor revenues, but the company has other footwear brands, including Teva and Sanuk, which could be sold so the company could focus on the UGG brand.
Marcato's total board take over effort is unusual since most activist campaigns, even those employed by McGuire in the past, have sought to install a minority-slate of directors. The most high-profile, recent total-control battle took place in 2014 when Starboard Value's Jeff Smith succeeded at replacing all the directors at Darden Restaurants.
In addition, Corvex Management's Keith Meister also in 2014 convinced shareholders to remove and later replace the entire board of CommonWealth REIT, now known as Equity Commonwealth (EQC).
"Marcato is pursuing another scorched earth campaign at Deckers," said Jim Rossman, managing director at Lazard. "We haven't seen total board changes since Darden and Equity Commonwealth."
McGuire also said he wanted to see Deckers be more aggressive about reducing retail space, "at a time when all physical retailers are looking to shrink" their physical footprint.
"In the case of Deckers, they are the company that makes the shoes and it is their choice in determining how they actually deliver those products to consumers," McGuire said. "One of the primary things we would like to see them do is be more aggressive in reducing retail space."
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