Avon hoping to get a makeover with new CEO

Associated Press Modified: April 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm •  Published: April 9, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Avon is hoping a new CEO can give it a much-needed makeover.

The struggling cosmetics seller on Monday tapped long-time Johnson & Johnson executive Sherilyn S. McCoy as its new chief executive. The announcement ended a four-month search to replace embattled CEO Andrea Jung, who had come under fire for failing to stem the company's declines and wrap up a bribery investigation.

Avon Products Inc. said Jung — the first female CEO of the 126-year-old company — will remain executive chairman after McCoy takes over later this month. Shares of the New York-based company fell more than 3 percent Monday.

McCoy's emergence at Avon comes less than two months after she was passed over for the top spot at Johnson & Johnson, which in February announced that Alex Gorsky would take over as CEO. Bill Weldon, who has served as J&J's chief executive for the past decade, plans to step down at the company's annual shareholder meeting April 26.

The announcement from Avon comes just a week after the company rejected a $10 billion takeover offer from the smaller beauty products maker Coty Inc.

Founded in 1886, Avon became a fixture in households across the country as its legions of "Avon ladies" went door to door selling makeup to family, friends and acquaintances. Its brands include Avon Color, Skin-So-Soft and mark.

The company markets its products in more than 100 countries through about 6.4 million independent sales representatives. Its annual revenue is more than $11 billion.

But North American sales have dropped off over the years and about 80 percent of Avon's $11 billion in annual revenue now comes from overseas. The company has frequently missed analysts' earnings expectations and posted weak sales in some of its largest markets.

Meanwhile, Avon's stock has taken a beating. The company's shares fell 73 cents, or 3.1 percent, to close at $22.69 Monday. Through the end of last week, its stock was down about 26 percent from its 52-week high of $31.60 last May. Its shares now are worth a little less than half of their all-time high of $46.11 in 2004.