Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Inc. shot up 15.31 percent in pre-market trading following rumblings that it is the subject of takeover interest from other retailers.
Abercrombie shares were trading at $14.61 at 7:18 a.m. A spokeswoman said, “We do not comment on market rumors.”
The teen retailer has been struggling with a turnaround for the past three years. It’s even brought back Hollister’s Gilly Hicks line. And although changes at Hollister have improved its brand positioning, the same can’t be said yet of older brand sibling Abercrombie & Fitch. Last year’s new ad campaign didn’t resonate as well, even though it was targeting an older Millennial with the point of view of inclusiveness for everyone. That’s a shift in mind-set from its former campaign that featured sexualized marketing, which also hadn’t been resonating with older teens for some time. The company has been working on fine-tuning a new store prototype for its Abercrombie brand, also showing a more grown-up consumer focus. One problem it has is that it takes time to evolve the Abercrombie brand given its long-standing roots in the teen category, as well as get consumers used to the new identity even though the retailer is relying on consumer feedback to tell it what she or he wants from the brand.
The company’s fourth-quarter report for the three months ended Jan. 28 had net income falling 15.5 percent to $48.8 million, or 71 cents a diluted share, from $57.7 million, or 85 cents, a year ago. Net sales declined 6.9 percent to $1.04 billion from $1.11 billion. Abercrombie comparable-store sales fell 11 percent, but rose 1 percent at Hollister.
At the time, chief executive officer Fran Horowitz said that sales at international markets improved, while the direct-to-consumer business continued to deliver positive comps in both the U.S. and international markets.
All that, and a challenging retail backdrop at the malls, has shares of Abercrombie trading at near their 52-week low of $10.50. The 52-week high is $25.49. That trading range, and the current market capitalization of $861.5 million based on Tuesday’s close of $12.67, easily makes Abercrombie a takeover target.
Reuters first reported on the takeover interest, and that Abercrombie had hired Perella Weinberg Partners to field approaches from other retailers.
For more on Abercrombie & Fitch: