Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) is one of the nation’s largest department store chains. There have been media reports for over a year that the family that controls it wants to take the company private. General pessimism about the industry is likely to scuttle the effort, according to one source.
Nordstrom’s stock trades near a recent high point, which puts it in a much different position than other struggling brick-and-mortar retailers. This high stock price, at $51, just below its 52-week high, makes its market cap so rich that investors in a private transaction may find a deal too risky. In other words, Nordstrom’s success in the market may be the family’s primary enemy. Presumably, to take the company private would mean the payment of a premium to the already high share price.
According to the New York Post:
Efforts by Nordstrom’s founding family to take the retailer private are struggling as sources of traditional financing have dried up, The Post has learned.
At the same time, obtaining enough financing from buyout fund Leonard Green & Partners is not a sure thing, sources said.
“The math is becoming difficult,” one source in the lending industry said.
Nordstrom’s profit and loss performance has been very modest, which also makes it different from most of its struggling competition. Its annual revenue growth rate over five years has been more than 6%. Last year, revenue was $14.8 billion. The five-year track record for the annual performance of net income is down 12%.
Nordstrom soon will release its earnings for last year. The quality of the numbers will have a major effect on whether the “take private” plan can work. Investors will be particularly interested in online sales because these have become a bellwether of retailer health. Amazon continues to batter the retail market as it gains e-commerce market share.
Nordstrom is on the edge of not being able to go private at all.