By  on February 14, 2005

NEW YORK — The buzz and excitement of New York Fashion Week didn’t make it to Wall Street, with the major markets remaining largely stagnant.

The WWD Composite Stock Index ended up closing the week down 0.5 percent to 1,140.13. The S&P 500 ended the week up 0.2 percent to 1,205.3.

Meanwhile, another week passed with no resolution to a possible merger between Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores.

Shares of Federated fell 1.9 percent over the week, closing at $57.50 a share in New York Stock Exchange trading on Friday.

Shares of May were punished after the St. Louis-based department store company reported a 20.2 percent decrease in earnings for the fourth quarter. Earnings slid to $339 million, or $1.10 per share, compared with earnings of $425 million, or $1.38 a share, in the year-ago period. Shares of May finished the week down 5.4 percent closing at $31.98 a share.

If the merger goes through, Federated will be faced with having to turn May’s performance around, a task that could supercede industry concerns about the emergence of a new Wal-Mart-like entity.

“It comes down to their financial performance,” said Thomas DiMaio, senior vice president of Hana Financial. “If it turns out to be a bad merger, it’ll make it difficult for factors to work with them.”

Meanwhile, the past two weeks were busy regarding murmurs of mergers and acquisitions. Some of the items cooking include: Liz Claiborne Inc. snapping up Ann Taylor Stores Corp.; Neiman Marcus Group doing either a secondary stock offering, a sale of one of its subsidiaries or even a purchase, perhaps making a run at Saks Fifth Avenue; Federated making a play for Neiman’s, or continuing in its talks to acquire May; J.C. Penney Co. picking off pieces of May, with Federated or Nordstrom doing the same. With Claiborne eyeing Ann Taylor, a West Coast analyst said it would be “the biggest acquisition for Liz, but they would only do it if it meant accretion of the stock, since Paul Charron [Liz’s chairman and chief executive] is very price sensitive, and the bottom line is the benefit to shareholders.”

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