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John123 in Gainers & Losers,

Disney down 1.7% on CEO succession uncertainty

Walt Disney Co (DIS) Chief Executive Bob Iger could be asked to postpone his retirement a third time to help smooth the transition to a new leader of the storied media company, analysts suggested after Monday's surprise resignation of Chief Operating Officer Tom Staggs.

Disney shares fell 1.7% to end at $97 on Tuesday as investors digested news that the company was losing the person Wall Street considered the heir apparent to Iger.

The company, which owns TV networks, theme parks and a movie studio did not give a reason for Staggs' exit but said on Monday that he would remain a special adviser to Iger through September. 

Staggs had never formally been identified as Iger's successor, but his promotion to the No. 2 job a little more than a year ago had put him in the lead to become CEO after Iger's scheduled departure in 2018.

A source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Staggs decided to leave after learning that the board was expanding its CEO search and he was not guaranteed to land the job.

The sudden move left Wall Street and Hollywood guessing about who would emerge as Iger's successor. One name frequently mentioned as a potential candidate is Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who sits on the Disney board. Facebook declined to comment.

While it vets outside executives, Disney's board might be able to persuade Iger to extend his contract so he can spend more time grooming a successor, analysts said.

If Iger, 65, extends his term, it wouldn't be the first time.

He has insisted that he will retire in June 2018, although the board twice previously convinced him to extend his contract.

In his 15 years as CEO, Iger has led Disney to record profits and executed the successful acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment and "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm Ltd.

I hope DIS quickly sort out this issue. In general I like the company.