Tuesday was only the second earnings call for Michelle Gass, who took on the CEO role at Kohl's Corporation (KSS) in May.
A relative outsider, Gass joined the retailer five years ago and served in two roles before taking on the chief executive job.
Chuck Grom, managing director of Gordon Haskett Research Associates, said the Gass' tenure has begun with some initiatives launched under her predecessor longtime CEO Kevin Mansell. Gass was announced as Mansell's successor last autumn.
"Michelle has been in the process of being groomed to be CEO for more than a year and spent time before that being designated as CEO," Grom said. "I think the transition has been pretty seamless."
Grom, who has covered Kohls since 2004, rated the stock as accumulate with an $86 price target.
During the call on Tuesday Gass emphasized reducing inventory, optimizing space by focusing on reducing store size, partnering with Amazon in 100 stores and improving the store's athletic and active clothing offerings, projects that require, "thinking out of the box to drive traffic to stores.
"Second quarter results show business operating on all cylinders with laser focused direction under CEO and excellent financial discipline under CFO," Jefferies analyst Randall Konik wrote in a note this morning following the call.
Konik expressed strong approval of Gass and set a price target of $115 for the retailer, far above the current market price of $78.92, displaying his belief in the "laser focus" will continue to drive growth.
Background at Starbucks
Gass joined Kohl's in 2013 after 16 years at Starbucks (SBUX) .
Before joining Kohl's as chief customer officer in 2013, Gass had served as the president of the EMEA region for the coffee company, a position she worked to from 1996.
In her rise to senior leadership, served a key female figure in Howard Schultz's male-dominated company and was responsible for several innovations, including expansion of the highly profitable Frappuccino line, rolling out an instant coffee line, and developing the Starbucks Rewards program.
The rewards program has been a consistent driver of growth for Starbucks since Gass helped create the initiative, growing 14% in just the past quarter to a reach of 15.1 million consumers for example.
It will be innovations like rewards programs that that Gass will look to carry over in her tenure as CEO at the retailer, specifically noting "Kohl's cash" program expansion as a key goal in this morning's earning.
Further she noted expanded rewards programs and a pilot program with Amazon begun in May as signs of a the company's change in vision under her stewardship.
"We're going through a transformative time in retail, and I believe that Kohl's is uniquely positioned to lead the charge," Gass noted in an interview the days she became CEO. "In the last five years, we've invested to remake Kohl's for a new era and to ensure that we stay ahead among retailers."
She pinpointed technology, loyalty programs, and online shopping personalization as key initiatives.
So far in her term, her initiatives have been positive and position the retailer to survive and appeal to modern consumers, much more than peers like JC Penney (JCP) , which have suffered in recent month with a clear direction or leadership.
In his assessment of company leadership and trends at Kohl's, Konik noted that "traffic increases as peer closures, new brand additions, and thoughtful initiatives like the Amazon partnership" are proving to vindicate a bull case under Gass, not skipping a beat from former company veteran and CEO Kevin Mansell's strong finish to his career.
The company's compensation committee appeared to be betting on this seamless transition and continued quarter over quarter growth as well, as a 2018 proxy statement reveals the compensation committee elected to pay Gass over $1 million more per year than her predecessor.