Hot Topic on Fire as Sycamore Buyout Heads to Shareholder Vote

Michael Teague |

Hot Topic on Fire as Sycamore Buyout Heads to Shareholder VoteShares of the perennially-ubiquitous teen fashion chain Hot Topic (HOTT) were up nearly 30 percent on Thursday, trading for as much as $13.95 per share at one point.

The dramatic gains come after it was announced that the company’s board of directors unanimously approved a $600 million deal to sell the company to the private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The $600 million figure works out to $14 per share, 30 percent greater than the retailer’s $10.75 closing price on Wednesday.

But Thursday’s numbers have a history that predates the announcement of the sale. In fact, Sycamore is not only acquiring an extremely popular clothing store, but also its CEO Lisa Harper. Harper served on the company’s board from 2008 until she was named CEO in 2011. Her performance in 2012 as head of the company was particularly impressive, putting an end to three straight years of dwindling sales, and besting analyst estimates all four quarters as share price increased almost 46 percent.

Harper has been credited with boosting sales with her use of Hot Topic’s gothically-themed Blackheart lingerie line and Torrid plus-size clothing brand for teens, both virtually without competition, and has laid the groundwork to bring in new licenses such as Batman and Hunger Games. This comes on the heels of the company’s astute usage of the Twilight saga, a series of films whose aesthetic almost seems as though it could have been designed by a Hot Topic employee or customer.

Sycamore’s purchase of the company and its more than 800 stores must be submitted to a shareholder vote and regulatory approval before the sale becomes official.

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