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Investors Show Faith in JC Penney, Barnes & Noble’s Future

Recent stock market volatility has had at least one beneficial effect on the retail sector—it’s spurred investment in some publicly-traded retail chains.

Amid the brutal selling, two large national retailers—department store JC Penney and bookseller Barnes & Noble—reached deals to receive sizable equity infusions. While driven by the fact that the shares for each firm were trading at deep discounts, the moves also illustrate investors’ faith in the long-term prospects for the two chains.

On Friday, Bill Ackman-led hedge fund Pershing Square Capital got approval from JC Penney Co.’s board of directors to up its stake in the retailer from its current 16.5 percent. Pershing Square will make the investment through a “synthetic long position” to make its exposure equivalent to 26.1 percent. A synthetic long position typically refers to a derivative contract in which the investor receives cash payments if a company’s shares rise. Pershing actually reduced its voting rights to 15 percent of shares outstanding.

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