The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "an activist investor is urging department-store chain Kohl’s Corp. to consider a sale of the company or a separation of its e-commerce business.
"New York-based hedge fund Engine Capital LP wants the retailer to examine the two alternatives to improve its lagging stock price, according to a letter sent to Kohl’s board Sunday … Engine said in the letter that assuming online sales revenue of around $6.2 billion, Kohl’s digital business alone would be worth $12.4 billion. Engine also said it believes there are private-equity firms that would pay at least $75 a share and that interactions with potential buyers suggest they could do so by monetizing Kohl’s real estate.
"Kohl’s didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment."
- KC's View:
Seems pretty clear to me that while it might increase short-term shareholder value, spinning off the e-commerce business would not position Kohl's as having the kind of customer-centric value that a retailing business needs to go the distance. As for selling the company … well, I'm not qualified to pass judgement on that suggestion, but my guess is that if a hedge fund is suggesting it, such a deal may be good for the fund's bottom line and not necessarily in the best interests of the retailing entity.
Save me from the craven manipulations of hedge funders and investment bankers who know absolutely nothing about retailing. If these clowns get their way, the thing they are most likely to achieve is turning Kohl's into Sears. (Isn't Fast Eddie Lampert, who has driven Sears' and Kmart's retail businesses into the ground, a hedge funder?)