Kmart stocks jump as private investors take stake

Shares of Kmart, the nation's third-largest retailer, jumped up almost 20 percent in unusually heavy trading last week, apparently spurred by a federal filing reporting that two private investors had taken a 6 percent stake in the giant discounter.

Investors Ronald Burkle and Kenneth Abdalla said in a 13-D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they now own almost 29 million Kmart shares, held for "investment purposes."

Burkle, the majority owner of Yucaipa Companies, is best known for a series of supermarket acquisitions he made in the mid- and late '90s, eventually selling his holdings to Safeway Corp. He said in filing that he has been buying Kmart shares since September, and has received antitrust clearance to buy as much as 15 percent of the big discounter.

At one point last week, before settling down on profit-taking, Kmart shares had climbed as high as $7.63 a share, bouncing up 18.5 percent, or $1.19 a share, from $6.44 the previous week. Trading was unusually active in the retailer's stock, with as many as 13 million shares changing hands in one day versus routine daily trading of three million shares.

Since hitting bottom late in December, Kmart shares have jumped up more than 50 percent in value, to a recent $7.63 from a 52-week low of $5.06 recorded on Dec. 28. Even with the recent run-up, Kmart shares are still down almost 27 percent from a 52-week high of $10.44 a share.

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