Is Liz Claiborne On Road To Chapter 11?
A fitting headline to cap a day in which retail analysts from various investment banks were yapping ceaselessly, trying to convince CNBC's viewers that consumer discretionary is the next REIT space, and that HFT computers are mere minutes away from trading trillions of shares with one another, thereby pumping retail stocks into the ionosphere, is the news out of the WSJ that Liz Claiborne has hired restructuring and turnaround advisor Alvarez & Marsal, best known for advising the wind-down of Lehman's bankrupt estate.
Liz Claiborne, which owns the Lucky, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade brands
in addition to its namesake line. didn't announce that it had retained
Alvarez & Marshal. Usually such retentions are disclosed because
they are material to a company's health, Mr. Felton said. But
securities law allows some leeway because of the impact the information
can have on a company's business and stock price, he said.
Hiring a restructuring firm "not infrequently is the first step towards
a bankruptcy filing," said Raymond Felton, chairman of the corporate
practice at law firm Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis in Woodbridge,
While likely the preamble of some significant equitization (and absolutely not the last one in the mid/premium retail space) this an amusing episode, as it highlights the stigmata associated with companies, about whom it is leaked that they work with such traditional restructuring advisors as A&M, Alix & Co., Houlihan Lokey, and Miller Buckfire. In many ways, this is the bread and butter of specialized FT subsidiary service Debtwire, which is a specialized Page 6 for the distressed space, providing "color" on who has hired whom, or who is pitching what, where (and we love them dearly).
As more and more retail companies realize that Hopium does not pay the bills, and resort to the services of bankruptcy experts, expect to see increased episodes of retailers claiming to never, ever need to restructure, until one lovely morning there is a fresh and warm Chapter 11 filing waiting at the inbox in Southern District Of NY.
Ironically, as we live in a time where bankruptcy is actually beneficial for stocks, it may be merely a matter of time before every single US corporation seeks to gun their stocks higher, while enjoying a 3-6 month vacation under the observant eye of Judge Gerber.