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Hechinger stock jumps 24 percent on speculation of acquisition


What Wall Street taketh, it can giveth back.

Hechinger Co., pummeled for months by investors, got an overdue shot in the arm yesterday as shares in the Landover-based home improvement chain jumped 24 percent on speculation that the retailer might be an acquisition target.

Analysts and Hechinger officials were equally puzzled by the sudden blip on their Quotron screens -- the stock rose $1.125, to $5.75, with shares trading more than 16 times higher than its three-month average.

"I cannot believe it's any more than a lark," said Kenneth M. Gassman Jr., a Davenport & Co. analyst who spoke yesterday with Hechinger officials -- and found them not averse to the stock's rise.

"The company is not trying to put itself on the block, and secondly, I believe it would be difficult to find someone to buy Hechinger in its current state."

Hechinger, which runs 118 stores in 21 states and Washington, has suffered nine consecutive months of faltering revenue, battered by competitors, weak housing and weather.

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