Byline: Carol Emert
WASHINGTON — Dickstein & Co. LP, a New York investment firm, plans to acquire a majority share of Hills Stores Co., Canton, Mass., according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.
Dickstein said it planned to seek antitrust clearance from the Justice Department “with respect to the acquisition of in excess of 50 percent of the voting securities of [Hills].”
Dickstein did not say when or how it intends to acquire the shares. The SEC filing disclosed that on July 25 and July 27, Dickstein purchased 127,883 shares, raising its stake in Hills to 12 percent from 11.4 percent.
William A. Friend, Hills’s corporate counsel, said his company had been “in communication” with Dickstein, but the investment firm had not told Hills it was planning to acquire a majority stake, and had not made a tender offer.
“We’re still trying to assess [the situation] ourselves,” Friend said Friday. In a previous filing, dated July 22, Dickstein disclosed that it had increased its ownership to 11.4 percent from 5.8 percent, and that it intended to take an active role in running Hills.
Dickstein officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Janet Mangano, securities analyst for Burnham Securities, questioned Dickstein’s motive in announcing its plans.
“I don’t know if they’re just putting it into play or if they’re seriously interested in acquiring it for investment purposes or operational purposes. They’re not a retailer, so I would have to rule out the latter.”
Mangano noted that the price of Hills stock has risen significantly in the last few weeks. Dickstein purchased shares at prices ranging from 18.25 to 18.75 between June 27 and July 22. The shares acquired this week were purchased for 19.45 to 19.75.
Hills closed at 21, up 1 1/4, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Mangano said she is forecasting a steep increase in Hills’s earnings per share this year to $2.70 from $2.03 last year. Earnings of $3.05 are projected for 1995. Hills’s comparable-store sales rose 8.7 percent in the quarter ended April 30 against the same quarter in 1993, “which really put them at the top of the industry,” Mangano noted.
— Fairchild News Service