Shares of Stage Stores Inc. took a dive in afternoon trade Thursday once a trading halt was lifted, after the department store chain questioned the validity of a filing made earlier in the session that suggested an entity named HMA Acquisition Inc. had acquired a 5% stake in the company. "Stage Stores...today noted that it has not received any offer or other communication from such entity and has not been able to confirm that such an entity exists," the company said in a statement. The stock had plunged as much as 22% to a record low of $1.80 within minutes of the opening bell, after the company reported disappointing fourth-quarter results and provided a downbeat outlook. At 9:44 a.m. ET, the HMA filing ran, saying the California-based corporation had acquired 1,366,415 shares of Stage Stores, or 5.03% of the shares outstanding. The stock spiked to a gain of as much as 3.4% to an intraday high of $2.40 by 9:48 a.m., before pulling back. The stock was down 7.8% at $2.14 at 2:22 p.m. when it was halted for news, then dropped further to $2.06 in recent trade. The stock has now shed 54% over the past three months, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has lost 4.8% and the S&P 500 has climbed 8.9%.
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