Build-A-Bear For Sale?

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. rose Thursday after a Buckingham Research analyst said the stuffed-toy retailer may be close to a sale.

Build-A-Bear said in June it would consider strategic alternatives, including a sale.

In a client note, analyst John Zolidis said the company backed out of an appearance at an investment conference set for next month. Zolidis noted that companies often cancel appearances when a sale is close.

“While we can't say for sure whether Build-A-Bear's newfound scheduling issue is legitimate, canceling an appearance at a conference has been a signal that something is afoot in other situations that we have encountered in the past,” he said.

Media reports also suggest a sale may be close, Zolidis said. He named Mattel Inc., Gymboree Corp., Hasbro Inc. and American Greetings Corp. as potential buyers.

In the analyst's opinion, Childrens Place Retail Stores Inc. is probably not able to buy Build-A-Bear because of its licensing agreement with Walt Disney Co.

The conference is set for October 25, one week after Build-A-Bear is set to report its third-quarter earnings.

Zolidis said the stock price does not include a sale. He rates Build-A-Bear shares at “Accumulate,” with a price target of $25.

Shares gained $1.69, or 9.9 percent, to $18.73 in afternoon trading. The stock has ranged from $15.10 to $32.08 over the past year.