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story.lead_photo.caption The exterior of the southeast corner of Dillard's at the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville June 17, 2002.

Shares of Dillard's Inc. jumped $15, or 24%, on Friday in a late-afternoon burst of trading that left analysts scratching their heads.

The shares opened trading Friday morning at $64.35. A healthy 1.2 million shares were exchanged during the trading day and the shares closed at $79.35.

The average daily trading volume over the past three months has been 464,080 shares, according to Nasdaq data.

The Little Rock-based department store issued neither investor reports nor news releases that might explain the surge in activity.

"I have no idea why this stock moved, it's extraordinary actually. And I think, Dillard's, you have a duty to say something to your shareholders, even if it's 'we don't know what is going on,' or 'we don't comment on market rumors.' If there is something going on you can say that," financial advisor and panelist Karen Finerman said Friday after markets closed during CNBC's Fast Money segment.

"Is there a market rumor that you know about?" host Melissa Lee asked Finerman.

"I haven't heard one," Finerman said.

Dillard's director of investor relations, Julie Johnson Guymon, had no comment Monday when asked about the leap in share price. The company is preparing to release its second-quarter financial report.

With no news to share about the company, Ken Perkins, a Retail Metrics analyst, said the move was unusual.

"The only thing it might be attributable that I can think of is that they bought back shares, which pushed up the price and led to some short selling," Perkins said in an email Monday.

Dillard's has a history of buying back its stock and in March announced a $500 million buyback program.

Edward Vranic, a private investor in Toronto, suspected similar activity. A roughly 24% climb from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. has an "orchestrated feel to it," echoing Perkins' estimate of a share buyback, a short squeeze, or both, that led to Friday's spike, Vranic wrote in financial market industry outlet Seeking Alpha. A short squeeze is described as a rapid increase in the price of a stock combined with a lack of supply and strong demand.

Dillard's posted a profit of $78.6 million, or $2.99 per share for the first quarter ending May 4. Since then, the retailer has said it will close stores in North Carolina, Oklahoma and Iowa, in response to changing shopper habits.

Competitors such as Nordstrom and Macy's have felt similar pains, reflected in their stock values, making Friday's stock price spike all the more unusual, Vranic said.

Dillard's shares fell $1.42, or 1.8%, to close Monday at $77.93. Shares have risen as high as $94.03 in the past 52 weeks and sunk as low as $53.96.

Business on 07/23/2019

Print Headline: Dillard's increase mystifies analysts; 'it's extraordinary actually,' 1 says


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