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Checkpoint Systems


trekked as much as 18.5% higher Friday on word of a management change and gleaming profit expectations for the coming year.

The Thorofare, N.J.-based company, which makes security devices and tags that attach to retail items for theft prevention, appointed new board member Robert van der Merwe as chief executive, effective immediately. He replaces former CEO George Off, who had assumed the role in 2002 and will now stay on as chairman of the board.

Van der Merwe joined Checkpoint's board a couple of months ago. Before that, he had been CEO of merchandising-systems maker Paxar for about two years until June, when

Avery Dennison

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bought it out.

According to company lead director Keith Elliott, Off had suggested van der Merwe for the position. "George Off was the right leader for Checkpoint ... in 2002," Elliott said. "Rob van der Merwe is the right leader for Checkpoint going forward."

And Thomas Weisel analyst Ajit Pai called the move a positive one, saying in a client note that it "virtually completes the company's succession plan" following the hiring of new CFO Raymond Andrews earlier this month. Andrews had replaced Craig Burns.

Pai, who currently has a market-weight rating on Checkpoint stock with a $29 price target, commented that van der Merwe "should be able to quickly familiarize himself with CKP's operations and formulate his strategy" for sustaining top- and bottom-line growth.

Checkpoint itself, meanwhile, cited its continuing momentum and "an excellent pipeline of new products" in forecasting 2008 earnings of $1.65 to $1.75 a share on a double-digit revenue climb. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial are looking for $1.62 a share, excluding items.

Checkpoint shares were added $4.03, or 17.8%, to $26.74, in recent trading.