Abercrombie & Fitch shares got the stitching knocked out of them on Monday.
The apparel retailer’s stock fell 21 percent after the company said it ended talks with potential acquirers.
A&F shares closed at $9.59 after hitting a new 52-week low of $9.51 earlier in the day — wiping out what had been a small gain for the year to date.
The chain had been struggling financially, but its shares had risen to $14.10 on May 10 from $10.62 the previous month after it announced that it would pursue a sale — and that a buyer would pay a premium.
Soon thereafter, it was whispered in retail circles that A&F, with 2,396 US stores as of April 29, was in talks with American Eagle Outfitters on a possible deal.
Chairman Arthur Martinez, in a statement, pledged “sound, aggressive action” to enhance shareholder value over the long term.
In May, there was even talk that Express could be a possible suitor.
Now A&F, a Wall Street and retail darling in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to its preppy look, has few alternatives.
The retail industry has been shaken by bankruptcies and a rising tide of store closures this year as consumer preferences also shift to spend on experiences such as food and travel instead of physical goods.
A&F’s slide brought down nearly the entire retail sector.
Shares of American Eagle fell 3.9 percent, to $11.25, while Gap fell 6.3 percent, to $21.21, Express slipped 5.6 percent, to $6.10, and Buckle was off 5.2 percent, to $16.50.
New A&F Chief Executive Fran Horowitz, hired earlier this year, has her work cut out for her.
Same-store sales at the company’s flagship Abercrombie stores were down 10 percent in the three months ended April 29 — after falling 8 percent a year ago.
The bright spot appears to be its Hollister brand, which saw comparable sales gain 3 percent in the most recent quarter — improving on its flat quarter a year earlier.