Wall Street Takes Wait-and-See Approach to Retail Changes

From Wall Street's perch, major overhauls at apparel retailers and vendors have been overshadowed amid the subprime market collapse and sagging consumer...


Shares of the company trended up following the announcement, but dropped off on Thursday to close at $32.12, down 27 percent for the year.

Limited Brands Inc. is turning its attention to its beauty and intimate apparel divisions after transferring a majority of its stake in its Limited women's clothing chain on July 9. The company sold 75 percent of its stake in Limited Stores to Sun Capital Partners in exchange for a $50 million investment in Limited Stores and a $75 million credit line. Previously, the company sold a majority of its stake in Express to Golden Gate Capital for $602 million.

In recent years, sales at Limited Brands' clothing stores have been weak, and its main sources of growth have been the Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains.

Shares slipped 2 percent on the announcement and have continued trading down. For the year-to-date period, Limited Brands' stock has fallen 26 percent, closing at $21.96 on Thursday, from $29.58 on Jan. 3.

Maternity apparel retailer Mothers Work Inc. said on Sept. 28 that it would not renew its leasing deal with Sears Holdings Corp. The company said it was unable to reach renewal terms that were beneficial to the company or shareholders. Mothers Work held leases in the maternity department of 502 Sears stores.

Since the announcement, company shares dropped and continue to trade down 59 percent year-to-date.

After Jones Apparel Group completed the sale of Barneys New York, shares of the company dropped and Standard & Poor's cut its rating. S&P said Jones' portfolio has weakened since the sale. As of Thursday, shares for the year are down 37 percent to $20.71, from $33.12 on Jan. 3.

On Sept. 19 Kellwood Co. received an offer from Sun Capital Securities to buy the company for $543.9 million, which sent shares soaring 26 percent from $15.17 to $19.14.

The private investment firm offered $21 a share for the company, a 38 percent premium from the closing price on Sept. 18. In July, Kellwood announced a major restructuring program to cut costs and focus on consumer lifestyle brands. While shares have buoyed from their 52-week low of $14.21, they are still down 44 percent for the year.

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