Will George Zimmer take back Men's Wearhouse?

The Week
The company was actually doing just fine without its baritone pitchman.
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The company was actually doing just fine without its baritone pitchman.

Men's Wearhouse is gearing up to release its second quarter report today, the first since booting its iconic founder George Zimmer in June, basically for not playing well with others.

Though the world seemed shocked that the company would cut ties with the guy who guarantees you'll like the way you look, the stock price has risen 4.7 percent since his ousting. But a good part of that leap may be attributable to rumors that Zimmer is looking to buy back the company, says Spencer Jakab at The Wall Street Journal.

Given that the board said it is not considering selling, such a move would likely entail a hostile takeover. Zimmer refused to comment about the speculation, but how realistic is it?

Though Zimmer himself controls just 3.5 percent of the company, "the baritone pitchman may [be] able to join forces with a larger partner such as a private equity player to buy the company," Jonathan Berr at MSN said back at the time of Zimmer's ouster. In fact, in August, an anonymous source told Women's Wear Daily that Zimmer had started looking around for backing for such a deal.

And the numbers could be feasible. Upon Zimmer's firing, the company had about $155 million in cash and no debt, says Jakab. A deal could be done with borrowings at about six times 2013's projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — "a typical multiple," says Jakab.

But Jakab isn't so sure the rumors will become a reality.

[T]wo decisions since Mr. Zimmer's ouster make the odds of that happening longer. The company will spend $97.5 million to acquire JA Apparel Corp., maker of Joseph Abboud suits, and it announced a $100 million accelerated share-repurchase plan. [The Wall Street Journal]

The second quarter report might be the best indication of whether the board has the chops to grow the company as well as Zimmer did. Zimmer founded the company in 1973 in Texas, and it now has 1,200 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Sales were moving right along when Men's Wearhouse kicked out Zimmer. They had increased 5.1 percent in the quarter before his ouster, and sales for 2012 overall were $2.5 billion, a 4.4 percent rise from 2011. As Dan Caplinger at The Motley Fool puts it:

In the Men's Wearhouse earnings report, watch to see how new CEO Doug Ewert handles discussion of the retailer's future. With so much strife in the wake of its founder's departure, Ewert will have to work hard to make investors confident that Men's Wearhouse will keep moving in the right direction. [The Motley Fool]

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