By  on March 15, 2005

NEW YORK — Amid takeover speculation, shares of Gottschalks, the Fresno, Calif.-based regional department store chain, went up 13.5 percent, or $1.20, to close at $10.08, for a 52-week high on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading was heavy, with 178,000 shares exchanged compared with an average daily volume of 21,909. Gottschalks, with more than half of its 60-plus full-line department stores in California, has been considered a takeover candidate in light of its inconsistent performance and industry consolidation. Aside from California, Gottschalks has stores in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho. The chain primarily sells moderate and better-priced goods. Last year, the company generated net income of $5.8 million, up from $2.8 million, on sales of $668.6 million. Company officials could not be reached for comment. Potential buyers might include J.C. Penney, Dillard’s, Bon-Ton or a private equity firm. Saks Inc. is believed to be more interested in disposing of its department store group than adding to it, and putting resources into its Saks Fifth Avenue division.

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