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What: Shares of Express, (NYSE:EXPR) were flying higher today, up as much 24%, and finishing 21% higher after the clothing chain said it received a letter from an investor offering to take the company private.
So what: Express said that Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm that revealed it accumulated a 9.9% stake in the company, indicated that it was interested in acquiring the company. In response, Express said it established a Special Committee of the Board to "determine the best course of action," and it adopted a shareholder rights plan to prevent any unwanted takeover attempt by Sycamore or another investor.
Now what: Express had seen shares plunge by nearly 50% before today's news as sales have fallen sharply, and the company has missed earnings estimates in its last three quarterly reports. In its most recent quarter, same-store sales declined 11%, and earnings fell from $0.38 a share to $0.06. Clearly, Express is facing numerous challenges as fashion tastes appear to be changing. Sycamore has already taken clothing chains such as Hot Topic and Talbot's, and is a major investor in Aeropostale, so it's not a surprise to see it chasing yet another ailing retailer. No price tag was attached to Sycamore's letter, but given the recent sales decline, a buyout may be the best option for Express shareholders.