Bebe Stores Inc. stock jumped 55 percent to 73 cents today after a strongly worded letter from activist investor Prentice Capital.
Investors appeared to be jumping in with the hopes that the letter will motivate the company to make changes, but so far Prentice has had difficulty connecting with Bebe.
The investor owns approximately 5.6 percent of the retailer’s outstanding shares and filed a letter on Friday with the Securities Exchange Commission that expressed “extreme dissatisfaction” with Bebe’s board for disregarding the interests of the company’s shareholders and not addressing its concerns.
Prentice, which was founded by Michael Zimmerman, confirmed Monday that they own 4.37 million Bebe shares and had yet to hear back from the company.
The activist investor complained in its letter that Bebe stock has fallen 87 percent over the past year.
“During this time, we have made numerous attempts to contact both the board (including a letter sent on December 8th, 2015) as well as Mr. Mashouf, but we have yet to receive a response of any kind,” the letter said.
Manny Mashouf is Bebe’s founder and owns 59 percent of the company’s outstanding shares.
It’s been a turbulent time for the company. A recent reorganization of Bebe saw the company’s chief executive officer Jim Wiggett and chief financial officer Liyuan Woo leave the company.
Prentice noted in its letter that Bebe had a market capitalization of $37 million, no debt and $53 million of cash and securities and an estimated real estate value of $30 million. Prentice said Bebe’s assets should be commanding a stock price of $1.05 a share.
“The purpose of this letter is not to dwell on prior company missteps but rather to communicate a simple message: the board must respond to its shareholders, and it needs to understand that its fiduciary responsibility extends to the interests of all Bebe shareholders, not just its largest and most intimate one. In light of the severe destruction of shareholder value, we find it simply indefensible that the Board continues to refuse communication with its second-largest shareholder,” wrote Prentice.
The investor suggested that Bebe monetize its real estate holdings, strengthen its balance sheet by securing a credit line, communicate a turnaround plan to shareholders and look at strategic alternatives.
Bebe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.