Vitamin Shoppe May Consider Selling Itself, Analyst Says

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Vitamin retailer Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) could be considering selling itself after its 52 year old CEO announced that he would retire, Sterne Agee wrote in a note to investors today.

WHAT'S NEW: After Vitamin Shoppe announced on September 10 that its CEO Tony Truesdale would retire effective June 2015, Sterne Agee analyst Charles Grom wrote that the news was surprising, in light of Truesdale's age and several initiatives recently carried out by the company. Given Truesdale's departure and the lack of available high-caliber retail management talent, along with Vitamin Shoppe's recent move into manufacturing via its acquisition of nutritional product maker Nutri-Force, Vitamin Shoppe's board may be considering selling the company, the analyst believes. Vitamin Shoppe could be weighing selling itself to competitor GNC (GNC) or a private equity firm, Grom wrote. He kept a $53 price target and Buy rating on Vitamin Shoppe.

WHAT'S NOTABLE: In a note to investors on August 11, Credit Suisse predicted that GNC and Vitamin Shoppe could combine. The merger would create $135M of synergies and grow the combined entity's earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization by nearly 20%, the analyst predicted. Additionally, the companies have a great deal of store overlap, and the new CEO of GNC is a former president of Vitamin Shoppe, increasing the chances that a merger would be successful, Credit Suisse stated.

PRICE ACTION: In mid-morning trading, Vitamin Shoppe lost 1% to $43, while GNC advanced 1% to $39.50.

Reporting by Larry Ramer.

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