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Sector Update: Consumer Stocks Just Underwater Friday; Express Rushes Higher After Sycamore Partners Eyes Takeover

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Consumer stocks were slightly lower Friday with shares of consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 slipping about 0.2% while shares of consumer discretionary firms in the S&P 500 declining less than 0.1%.

In company news, Express Inc ( EXPR ) rallied Friday, with shares rising over 20% after the apparel retailer confirmed it received a letter from Sycamore Partners indicating the private equity firm is interested in acquiring the firm.

In response, EXPR adopted a so-called poison-pill defense as well as forming a special board committee to plot a course of action that would be in the best interest of shareholders. Under the new stockholder rights plan, the company declared a dividend of one subscription right to purchase an additional share of EXPR stock, which would be triggered if an outside entity acquires more than 10% of its stock with an intent to acquire the firm.

Sycamore Partners late Thursday disclosed it has acquired a 9.9% EXPR stake, paying $106.2 million to acquire 8.3 million shares. It also included a copy of its letter to management in the regulatory filing, stating the purchases should be seen as a "clear sign of our confidence in the Express management team and brand" as well as a "demonstration of our interest in acquiring the Company.

Separately Friday, Breen Capital raised its price target for EXPR shares by $4 to $20 a share.

EXPR shares were up 20.7% at $16.35 each this afternoon, earlier advancing to a session high of $16.75 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of $11.80 to $25.05 a share, declining 24.7% over the past year through yesterday's close.

In other sector news,

(+) OPEN, (+47.0%) Agrees to $2.6 bln cash buyout offer from Priceline ( PCLN ), which will pay $103 a share for the restaurant reservation service, a 46% premium over OPEN's closing price on Thursday. A Q3 closing is expected.

(-) LUB, (-3.7%) Halves 2014 same-store sales growth projection to 0.5% with total restaurant sales seen near the lower end of $375 mln to $385 mln guidance. Non-GAAP Q3 EPS of $0.04 tops single analyst estimate by $0.01 per share.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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