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The Wall Street Journal: Activist investor urges Kohl’s to sell — or to spin off its online business

An activist investor is urging department-store chain Kohl’s Corp. to consider a sale of the company or a separation of its e-commerce business.

New York-based hedge fund Engine Capital LP wants the retailer to examine the two alternatives to improve its lagging stock price, according to a letter sent to Kohl’s
KSS,
-2.89%

board Sunday and viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Engine owns a roughly 1% Kohl’s stake.

Engine argues that the company has underperformed both the S&P 500 and other retailers in recent years. Kohl’s shares closed Friday at $48.45, roughly where they were 10 years ago, giving the Menomonee Falls, Wis., company a market value of around $7 billion.

Engine said in the letter that assuming online sales revenue of around $6.2 billion, Kohl’s digital business alone would be worth $12.4 billion. Engine also said it believes there are private-equity firms that would pay at least $75 a share and that interactions with potential buyers suggest they could do so by monetizing Kohl’s real estate.

Kohl’s didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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