Economy & Markets

HBC surges 15% on investor pressure

By Linda Nguyen |
Source: The Canadian Press

Bank and consumer stocks drove the Toronto Stock Exchange higher today, as shares in Hudson's Bay  soared 15% amid activist investor pressure for the country's oldest retailer to go private.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 73.50 points to 15,266.04, with more than two-thirds of sectors finishing the session ahead.

The lift is being welcomed after the index dropped more than 200 points last Wednesday.

Land & Buildings Investment Management of Stamford, Conn., said in a public letter that Hudson's Bay should consider unlocking value from its real estate assets, even if that means closing its "crown jewel" locations.

The firm, which owns about 4.3% of the retail giant's equity, noted that the company's Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York is worth more than the company at current stock prices as of last Friday. It urged HBC to pursue options such as going private or redeveloping its properties in Canada, Europe and the United States.

HBC stock rose $1.34 to $10.22 on the TSX at the close.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada, said that investors are buoyed by the growth potential of HBC's real estate assets but should be weary — similar plans were not profitable in the past for U.S. retailers Sears and Kmart.

"You might have some value in the real estate but you still have to operate the business as well," said Cieszynski.

In other corporate news, shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals were up more than 6% after the Quebec drugmaker said prominent U.S. investor John Paulson has joined its board of directors. Its stock finished 99¢ higher at $17.79 on the Toronto stock index.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average surged 144.71 points to 21,528.99 and the S&P 500 index climbed 20.31 points to 2,453.46, as both markets hit record highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 87.25 points to 6,239.01.

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar jumped 0.07 of a U.S. cent to an average price of US75.64¢.

Commodities were mostly negative as the August crude contract lost US54¢ at US$44.43 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was down US14¢ at US$2.89 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract gave back US$9.80 to US$1,246.70 an ounce, while the July copper contract advanced US3¢ at US$2.59 a pound.