Dillard’s Dips on Barington’s Barbs

Department store group's stock declines to low point for year after shareholders complain that "status quo is not acceptable."

Shares of Dillard’s Inc. lost more than 9 percent of their value Friday, hitting their second 52-week low in a week, after Barington Capital Group ratcheted up the pressure on the retailer to take steps to maximize shareholder value.

Barington, which owns 3.7 percent of Dillard’s common stock, had earlier requested a meeting with William Dillard II, chairman and chief executive officer of the Little Rock, Ark.-based department store group. Last month, Barington said, it was informed by letter that the company’s investor relations director “would be happy to speak with you regarding our corporate strategy and answer your questions.”

In its reply, Barington repeated its request for a meeting with the ceo. “Our interest is to meet with you and members of your management team,” the letter, dated Friday, said.

“While we strongly believe in the potential prospects of Dillard’s, whose shares we believe are significantly undervalued, we hope you recognize that the status quo is not acceptable,” the note, signed by James Mitarotonda, continued.

Dillard’s shares ended Friday’s New York Stock Exchange session down $2.62, or 9.3 percent, at $25.62. The intraday price of $25.57 was their lowest point of the last 52 weeks and 37 percent below the 52-week high reached on May 21.