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Crown Crafts gets investor boost

A New York-based private investment group, Wynnefield Partners, has boosted its stake in Crown Crafts Inc., an infant's and juvenile products producer, to 7.8 percent, with a holding of 732,535 shares of the company's common stock.

"This is real good news for us," said Randall Chestnut, Crown Crafts chairman, president and ceo. "They first bought into Crown about three years ago, and they've been good friends ever since. This should send out a real strong signal about how they feel about the company and its prospects."

Chestnut characterized Wynnefield Partners as "passive, friendly advisors and good friends of the company. They came to us about three years ago, but they always kept their holdings under 5 percent. Recently they bought some more stock, and they own almost 8 percent. They're one of our largest shareholders now."

After years of punishing losses and financial instability, Crown Crafts is now a profitable, if much smaller, company after selling off its big woven products business to Mohawk Industries and splitting up its two remaining operations. The former adult bedding division, with its high-profile Calvin Klein Home and Royal Sateen franchises, was sold off to former Crown ceo Michael Bernstein and has been renamed Design Works. Crown Crafts, meanwhile, remains a public company focused on a strong infant's products business built up through a string of acquisitions by Chestnut.

Crown stock, listed on the over-the-counter bulletin board, was trading last week at $0.63, up about 152 percent from its 52-week low of $0.25.

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