NEW YORK — Major Gap Inc. shareholders Donald Fisher and his wife, Doris, last week transferred half of their 19 percent stake in the company to their three sons.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday, the couple transferred 86 million shares to Fisher Core Holdings, a family partnership. Although the filing doesn’t provide an explanation for the stock transfer, such arrangements are sometimes used by families to convey assets to heirs to lower estate taxes.

The transfer still leaves the couple with 85 million shares of Gap.

Their three sons, Robert, William and John, will also each contribute five million shares to the partnership. After the transfers of shares are completed, Fisher Core Holdings will own 101 million shares of Gap, or 11 percent of the company.

Donald Fisher, the 75-year-old founder of Gap, stepped down as chairman of Gap in May, but remains on the board with his wife, who is 72. Robert, 49, assumed the post of chairman.

Shares of Gap on Friday closed at $19.64, down 15 cents in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Concerns that second-quarter earnings could come in weaker than expected pushed the stock down.

Gap on Thursday posted a 5 percent drop in same-store sales for July, missing the consensus estimate gain of 0.8 percent expected by Wall Street analysts polled by First Call. In July 2003, the firm posted a comparable store sales increase of 9 percent.

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