Activist Hedge Funds Demand Dillard’s Attention

Jan 30 2008 | 8:21am ET

A pair of activist hedge funds is demanding changes at an iconic southern department store.

Barrington Capital Group and Clinton Group, which together own 5.3% of Dillard’s Inc., have called on the company to improve its inventory management, close underperforming stores and sell properties, all in the name of improving its stock price.

“Dillard’s can and must deliver considerably better financial and share price performance,” Barrington’s James Mitaronda and Clinton Group’s Michael Popson wrote to the Little Rock, Ark.-based company’s board. While acknowledging that times are difficult for retailers, Mitaronda and Popson complained that Dillard’s management has not responded to its suggestions for improving performance.

“Unfortunately, it appears to us that you have not only ignored our letters, but have also done little to improve the company on your own initiative, as Dillard’s financial results have gone from bad to worse since our initial communication in June 2007,” they wrote.

But Mitaronda and Popson expressed optimism about the company’s future, calling a recent share buyback a positive step, and noting that Dillard’s markets in the south and southwest are growing rapidly.


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