Leonard Roberts said Wednesday he is resigning as executive chairman at RadioShack, which still has not replaced the chief executive officer who left two months ago because of questions about claims on his resume.
Roberts said his final day will be the May 18 shareholders meeting, when the board could name an interim or permanent replacement.
He admitted the timing of his decision could have been better considering former Chief Executive David Edmondson's resignation Feb. 20 in the wake of controversy over his resume.
Roberts, 57, said he had wanted to stay until the company found a new CEO, now an interim post held by Chief Operating Officer Claire H. Babrowski. But the search by the Fort Worth company could last beyond the shareholders meeting.
"I have a problem asking shareholders to vote for someone who has no intention of serving a full term," Roberts said. "If I thought the search would take more than a year, that would be another situation."
Some analysts said the news wasn't a major surprise.
"It does seem odd that the chairman elects to resign when there is turmoil in the executive suite," said analyst Bill Baldwin.
Roberts served as RadioShack's CEO for six years before handing the job over to Edmondson in May. He will still serve as a consultant after his retirement, focusing on industry, civic and philanthropic activities, the company said. He will also retain his shareholder status.
Roberts joined the Tandy Co. as president of the RadioShack division in 1993. Six years later he was named president, chairman and CEO of RadioShack Corp. He is the third board member to step down this year. He joins Edmondson and Robert "Kam" Kamerschen, who said last month that he would not seek re-election.
The company said in a regulatory filing that it will probably not fill the void left by Kamerschen and have 11 board members rather than 12.
Roberts' announcement did not hurt the company's stock price, which has been in a steady decline since the summer.
Last week, however, it hit a 52-week low — $18.29 a share — after analyst Prudential Equity Group LLC analyst Mark J. Rowen downgraded the stock. Rowen wrote in a research note that he was concerned about the transition to selling Cingular wireless service. RadioShack previously offered Verizon service.
Baldwin said the company needs to develop a "real merchandise strategy."
"They need to find their way again into the merchandising world," he said. "They need to become relevant to a broader group of customers."
Roberts says he believes the company will rebound as it did in 1993.
"Here was a company everybody gave up on back then," he said. "We had a seven-year run of impressive sales and earnings growth."
Stepping down, Roberts said, will also allow the new CEO to have a "real and perceived free hand in the business."
Until someone takes over permanently, Babrowski is entrusted with a turnaround that includes shutting down 400 to 700 stores, plus two distribution centers. Analysts have been enthusiastic about Babrowski, who arrived last summer, since before Edmondson's resume troubles.
In February a newspaper report identified false information on the former chief executive's resume, and about one week later Edmonson stepped down. He began receiving four quarterly payments of $243,750 — totaling $975,000 — in February. He also is to receive $57,692 for accrued, unpaid vacation, plus an undisclosed amount for accrued and unpaid salary.
The company is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings April 21.