NEW YORK — Wall Street may be down on Warnaco Group, but Sid Bass is still in Linda Wachner’s corner.
The Texas billionaire this week acquired another 2.5 million shares in Warnaco, hiking his stake to 13.4 percent from 8.5 percent, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing indicates that Bass’s investor partnership, Prime 66 Partners, in Fort Worth, acquired the shares on Oct. 2, the so-called “date of event,” when Warnaco’s shares fell $1.56 to $2.44 after it issued an earnings warning and suspended quarterly dividends after those paid for the current quarter. Although the filing did not provide the price paid; given the day’s trading range, Bass’s group paid between $6 million and $10 million for the latest buy.
On April 5, Bass paid about $48.4 million in making his initial investment of 4.5 million shares when the stock closed at $10.69, and Bass is taking a bath so far on his Warnaco investment. At current market prices, his entire stake of 7.05 million shares is worth about $20 million and his initial investment less than $13 million.
It could not be learned what, if any, plans Bass has for his stake; Calls to Prime 66 weren’t returned.
The recent purchases elevate Bass to the status of Warnaco’s largest shareholder outside of Wachner, chairman and chief executive, who owns 20.6 percent of Warnaco. Fidelity owns 13.2 percent, according to Warnaco’s March 23 proxy.
Shares of Warnaco have been battered by several earnings revisions over the last two years due to weakness in its intimate apparel lines such as Warner’s and Olga, as well as in Calvin Klein jeans. Investors are also concerned about an ongoing trademark infringement lawsuit filed by its largest licensor, Calvin Klein.
Warnaco’s 52-week high of $19.12 was reached on Oct. 11, 1999, and its low was reached this past Monday in interday trading, at $2.19. Warnaco shares closed at $$2.75 Thursday, up 6 cents.