Speculation of a takeover or a management switch at American Eagle Outfitters Inc. had traders diving in Thursday—but so far investors betting on big changes have been frustrated.

 

Shares of the company, which along with its specialty store brethren Abercrombie & Fitch & Co. and Aéropostale Inc. has become a staple of the rumor mill, jumped 9.1 percent to $16.03. Just over 19 millions shares traded hands, or more than three times the average.

 

The closing bell brought no news from the company, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

American Eagle has an enterprise value of $2.2 billion, which includes the value of the its stock and its debts minus cash on hand. That’s a sort of baseline price that a would-be acquirer would likely have to improve on to buy the company.

 

The firm’s comparable-store sales fell 6 percent in January and analysts have begun to privately call for management changes.

 

At the same time, private equity companies with billions of dollars to be put to work and ready financing are kicking the tires at all manner of specialty retailers. J. Crew Group Inc. and Jo-Ann Stores Inc. are finalizing deals to go private and The Gymboree Corp. was taken off the market in November.

 

American Eagle’s rally stood out on a generally quiet day on Wall Street.

 

The S&P Retail Index rose 0.4 percent, or 1.89 points, to 520.14, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1 percent, or 10.60 points, to 12,229.29.

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