Activist investor Blue Clay Capital Management has withdrawn its proxy solicitation against Select Comfort Corp. because the bedmaker had made progress on its numerous recommendations, Blue Clay said Tuesday.
The withdrawal ends pressure that Blue Clay began applying in December and January after amassing 1.05 million shares of stock in the Plymouth-based maker of adjustable air beds.
Blue Clay, a Minneapolis-based hedge fund, put up nominees for Select Comfort board seats in an effort to have more say in how the company is run. The firm had applauded Select Comfort’s brand development, but said “greater focus is needed on increasing store count, expanding margins and increasing per share shareholder value.”
Select Comfort had recommended against Blue Clay’s board nominees, noting its recent financial successes and calling some of Blue Clay’s recommendations “risky” and “poorly conceived.”
Select Comfort officials did not comment on Blue Clay’s move on Tuesday. However, the company noted in a statement on Monday that Select Comfort had recently won the confidence of two independent proxy advisory firms. Both Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. publicly stated that they favored Select Comfort’s slate of board nominees.
Blue Clay’s initial timing struck some Wall Street analysts as odd because its request for board members came after Select Comfort had posted two successful quarters and beat analysts’ expectations. Three weeks ago, Select Comfort posted another strong quarter, which caused its stock to jump 5 percent in a single day.
In a letter to shareholders Monday, ISS said that Select Comfort’s “recovery, and the upward [stock] trend itself, began long before the contest [from Blue Clay], and appear to be deeply rooted in the actions the board took in response to 2013. As such, there does not appear to be a compelling case at this time that board change is warranted.”
Blue Clay, in an open letter to shareholders on Tuesday, said Select Comfort had followed its advice and successfully increased plans for new store openings from about 460 to between 550 and 650 stores. Advertising, the firm said, had built brand recognition and so more stores needed to follow. Blue Clay also said that Select Comfort had boosted its share repurchasing strategy.
“In recognition of the company moving in the overall direction of our recommendations, we are withdrawing our slate of two director nominees for election to the board at this year’s annual shareholders meeting,” the letter said. “We remain excited about the opportunity ahead for the company and will continue to encourage the board and management to embrace the strategic initiatives that we have advanced but that have not yet been adopted.”
A vote by shareholders on Blue Clay’s request was scheduled to take place during Select Comfort’s annual meeting on May 22. The issue has been removed from the agenda.
Select Comfort’s stock fell nearly 2 percent Tuesday. It closed at $31.19, down 54 cents a share.