Shareholder groups active in Minnesota

Activist shareholder groups have been very active with Minnesota companies this year.

On April 1, Marcellum Capital Management sent a letter to the chairman of the board of directors at Christopher & Banks criticizing the board makeup there. The firm would like to see Joel Waller, a past director and CEO of the company, back on the board of directors.

Select Comfort and Blue Clay Capital Partners are in the midst of a proxy fight, with both sides responsible for numerous filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Blue Clay is asking shareholders for two positions on Select Comfort’s board of directors. That contest is expected to conclude at Select Comfort’s annual meeting on May 22.

Up first is the proxy contest between Oakdale-based Imation Corp. and the Clinton Group. On Friday, Imation made the latest SEC filing in that battle, sending a letter to shareholders defending its plans for the company and asking them to support its director candidates and not the three being offered by the Clinton Group.

In the letter, Imation management called its director nominees highly qualified and independent and called the Clinton Group’s actions self-serving.

“We believe Clinton is seeking to take control of your company for their own benefit,” the company said in the letter.

Clinton Group has questioned whether the company has the right leadership.

That Imation contest is expected to conclude at the company’s annual meeting on May 20.

Patrick Kennedy


Hutch Tech’s sales miss mark in down PC market

On April 1, Hutchinson Technology reported preliminary results for its quarter ended March 29.

The maker of suspension assemblies for hard disk drives and other critical precision component technologies announced it had shipped about 101 million suspension assemblies in their fiscal second quarter, down 17 percent from the preceding quarter.

Christian Schwab, a senior research analyst with Craig-Hallum Capital Group, was expecting some negative news from the company given what he’d been seeing across the industry.

In a research note from April 2, he wrote: “We don’t believe a modest top line miss is a significant surprise given the current environment for PCs.”

Schwab is maintaining a “buy” rating on Hutchinson, believing the bad news had already been priced into the stock, but he has lowered his revenue estimates for the rest of fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016.

Patrick Kennedy