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Dollar Tree, Inc. (DLTR) shares climbed 1.74% Monday after the discount variety retailer said it had appointed Michael Witynski as its new chief executive officer. Witynski, will succeed outgoing CEO Gary Philbin, who had been in the role since 2017. He brings comprehensive experience to the top job, having served as the company’s chief operating officer, and most recently as its enterprise president. To facilitate a smooth transition, Philbin will remain as an executive and board member until Sept. 23, 2020.

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The timing of the move in the middle of a global pandemic raised eyebrows with some analysts. ‘While past promotions made it fairly obvious that Mr. Witynski was being groomed as the next in line, timing of the news is a bit peculiar, in our view,’ Jefferies analyst Christopher Mandeville wrote in a note to clients cited by Barron’s. However, the analyst believes Witynski’s focus on sales and margins justified the market’s positive reaction.

Dollar Tree stock has a market capitalization of $23 billion and trades 3.26% higher on the year through July 20. Performance has improved over the last three months, with the shares gaining 23%.

Navigating the Pandemic

The retailer told investors in May that it has access to a $1.25 million credit line and holds around $1.9 million in cash and investments to ride out uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Dollar Tree also said it plans to halt its repurchase program for the immediate future, though its current buyback has $800 million remaining. At the store level, the firm has reduced its planned renovations this year to 750 from its original expectation of 1,250.

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Wall Street View

The majority of analysts remain neutral on the stock as they wait for further clarity about earnings in the coming quarters. Currently, it receives 13 ‘Hold’ ratings, 1 “Overweight’ rating, and 10 ‘Buy’ ratings. The 12-month Street consensus price target on Dollar Tree shares sits at $105.50. This represents an 8.6% premium to Monday’s $97.12 close.

Technical Outlook

The share price broke above a multi-month downtrend line in mid-May but has traded within a symmetrical triangle since. Price started to climb above the pattern’s top trendline last week, with gains consolidating Monday as traders digested the CEO announcement. In the coming days, watch for a cross of the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) above the 200-day SMA. Technical analysts refer to this as a golden cross – a signal that indicates the formation of a new uptrend. If the upside continues, look for a test of the 52-week high around $120. Alternatively, a breakdown below the triangle could see a test of crucial support at $75.

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