Sorry, fans of preppie fashion: It looks like J. Crew (NYSE: JCG ) will soon be unavailable for potential investors' watchlists. The clothier's escaping from the current cutthroat retail fray and going private.
Private equity firms TPG Group and Leonard Green & Partners have proposed buying the retailer for $43.50 per share, about a 15% premium over the price J. Crew shares commanded yesterday.
There's something bittersweet about the news. J. Crew is one of the highest-quality retailers in the business, with smart merchants at the helm, most notably CEO Mickey Drexler (who long, long ago ran Gap (NYSE: GPS ) ).
Still, J. Crew's not immune to the current cutthroat retail environment. It's faced plenty of difficulties and issued a lackluster outlook for the year, falling victim to fickle shoppers and the highly promotional environment retailers all currently face. I would put J. Crew in my top five list of "Retailers Who Send Desperate-Sounding Promotional Emails to Me Rather Constantly."
Existing J. Crew shareholders might feel gratified to get the premium price, but cheated out of future growth. If so, take some consolation in the rumblings that J. Crew could entertain other, doubtlessly higher bids.
Whether or not those rumors pan out, investors shouldn't hold their collective breath for buyouts at other retailers who've ginned up acquisition rumors, like RadioShack (NYSE: RSH ) or Saks (NYSE: SKS ) .
Investors are better off sticking with companies with quality management, clean balance sheets, and a good track record of navigating this tough retail climate, such as Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN ) , Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO ) , and Buckle (NYSE: BKE ) .
What do you think of J. Crew's rather surprising news? Let us know in the comment box below.