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Bed Bath & Beyond plans to sell shares in bid to avoid bankruptcy

Struggling retailer Bed Bath & Beyond said Monday it plans to sell shares of the company in hopes of generating enough cash to avoid filing for bankruptcy. 

Bed Bath & Beyond is aiming to raise $1 billion from the offering and use the proceeds to pay down some of its debt and make interest payments it missed on other loans. Mired in a sales slump, the home goods chain is set to close 87 more stores in coming weeks after shutting 150 locations last year. 

Bed Bath & Beyond didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. In a statement, the company said it "cannot give any assurances that it will receive any or all of the proceeds of the offering."

Wall Street onlookers decried the move as a fruitless gambit that just delays an inevitable bankruptcy filing.

"We see a low probability that the company will be able to raise equity and view this as a last gasp before filing for bankruptcy protection," analysts at Wedbush Securities said in a research note Tuesday. "If the company completes the transactions, we estimate that the additional capital provides the company with just a few more quarters of room to turn around its operations." 

The plan "is a last roll of the dice from a company that is desperate to raise cash to provide some financial headroom to pay down debts and keep operations going," said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData.

"While a public offering seems like an odd device for a crisis-ridden company, Bed Bath & Beyond is desperate to avoid declaring Chapter 11 without having sufficient liquidity or potentially interested buyers in place," Saunders said in a research note. "If it does, any bankruptcy judge could quickly force it into Chapter 7 liquidation where management would lose control and the company would effectively be terminated."

After more than doubling in price on Monday when the plan was announced, Bed Bath & Beyond's stock fell back to its earlier level, trading at about $3.22 a share on Tuesday.

Bed Bath & Beyond executives warned last month that the company could file for bankruptcy after seeing dismal sales during the past year. CEO Sue Gove blamed the poor financial performance on "lower customer traffic" and inventory constraints that resulted in shortages of merchandise on the shelves. In January, the company reported that its revenue during the holiday shopping season fell to a disappointing $1.26 billion, after it lost $393 million during the previous quarter, which ended November 26. 

The company's stock experienced a wave of popularity last year as Ryan Cohen, the billionaire founder of online pet food company Chewy, bought more than 7 million shares in the company. He sold those shares last August in a move that netted him $178 million and caused a wide selloff among meme stock investors. 

The company made headlines again in September when its former chief financial officer died unexpectedly after jumping from a skyscraper in New York. 

Retail experts said the once-popular retailer doomed itself years ago as a result of bad business decisions, including buying back too much of its own stock, being slow to transition to e-commerce and introducing private label products that few customers wanted. 

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