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Della Valle Sees Profit on Saks Stake

The value of Diego Della Valle's shares is up more than $3.1M since he purchased the Saks stock.

Shares of Saks Inc. didn’t hold onto all of the gains made last week, but Diego Della Valle has made a $3.1 million profit on his increased investment in the luxury retailer.

This story first appeared in the May 26, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Della Valle, chief executive officer of Tod’s SpA, the Italian footwear and accessories firm that includes Saks on its account list, acquired a 5.9 percent stake in Saks through the acquisition of 8.48 million shares between Feb. 20 and May 7. The total consideration for the stake was $30.3 million, making the average price paid $3.57 a share.

When Della Valle’s holdings in the firm were disclosed in a Schedule 13D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 15, Saks’ shares closed at $3.34 and he was effectively out of pocket almost $2 million.

However, shares rallied on the disclosure of his investment Monday, rising 22.2 percent to $4.08 and turning his $2 million loss into a $4.3 million profit. They advanced another 17.9 percent on Tuesday, even as Saks reported a $5.1 million first-quarter loss, valuing his shares at $40.8 million, more than $10 million more than he spent.

Shares fell during the rest of the week, ratcheting down 2 percent Friday to $3.94, but on paper, Della Valle was still holding a better than $3.1 million profit.

In comments after the disclosure of earnings results on Tuesday, Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and ceo of Saks, described Della Valle as “a great vendor for Saks and knows the business. I am happy he is an investor in the company.”

The Italian entrepreneur has yet to comment on his stake but, according to a published report in Italy, he wants to meet with Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire who owns 18.6 percent of Saks.

The luxury chain arguably is more vulnerable to the dip in spending by affluent consumers than any other publicly held retailer — Nordstrom Inc. has a greater assortment of more moderately priced goods and Neiman Marcus Inc. is privately held, although it still reports both monthly same-store sales results and, because of public debt, quarterly earnings results.

As a public company catering to upscale shoppers, especially in the wounded financial capital of New York, Saks was a likely recipient of Wall Street’s doubts, but its volatility on the New York Stock Exchange has resulted in wide, sometimes dramatic swings in its share price. For instance, on March 10, just weeks after Della Valle made his initial investment in the company, shares opened at $1.91 and went as high as $2.08 before dropping to their 52-week low of $1.50 and closing at $1.57. In the last month alone, they’ve spent time above $5 as well as a considerable amount below $4.

Last week, they picked up 18 percent, well in excess of the 1 percent advance logged by the S&P Retail Index during the same period.