Stock in Ingles Markets plunged by nearly 16% Wednesday, giving back a chunk of the gains it made over a recent rally that saw the retailer achieve its highest trading levels ever.
Ingles, the Asheville, N.C.-based company with stock that has typically traded lightly, gained nearly 45% on heavy trading volume since filing its 10-K annual report with federal securities regulators in mid-December. The report, which covered the fiscal year ending Sept. 27, disclosed that the company had purchased 2.5 million shares of its own stock from its family holders during the fiscal fourth quarter at an average price of $26 a share. Stock since then climbed by more than 80%.
Ingles stock traded as high at $47.55 per share Tuesday but fell dramatically on Wednesday to close at $40.03, a 15.8% one-day decline. It was the second-largest decline on the Nasdaq market on the day.
There was no indication from the company there was any news sparking the rally or the subsequent sell-off. Sources noted the company is in a “quiet period” prior to disclosing first quarter earnings so insiders would be prohibited from participating in selling of stock.
Some investors have speculated as to the possibility Ingles was the target of takeover interest from a competitor such as Publix or Kroger, or a private-equity buyout or event focused on unleashing its real estate value, but SN has been unable to verify those possibilities. Ingles reported modest fourth-quarter sales growth and a 13.1% increase in net earnings, citing improved customer sentiment.
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