Host Marriott Services Corp. serves food that's as simple and functional as a pair of khakis from the Gap, but its stock jumped almost 60 percent last week on the prospect that it soon will be dolled up in duds from Benetton.
The Marriott food service spinoff, which has restaurants in airport lounges and highway rest areas, accepted a $929 million takeover offer from Autogrill SpA of Italy, which is controlled by the Benetton family, better known for its knit sportswear.
Autogrill runs roadside restaurants in Europe, but its rest stops have the family cachet and are considered more hip than Roy Rogers, Sbarro and the other Host Marriott Services eateries.
The size of the check is what matters, however, and Autogrill has offered $15.75 a share for Host Marriott Services stock that was trading for $9.75. It only took one day for the stock to get within a few cents of the offering price, even though the deal won't close for months.
That made Host Marriott Services the big winner in a bad week for Washington area stocks. The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index dropped for the second week in a row, falling 1.5 percent to 172.97.
The index, which represents stocks of more than 200 companies based in the District, Maryland and Virginia, has for the last year lagged behind broader market indicators, such as the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Two weeks ago, when those barometers were hitting all-time highs, it looked as if the local index might finally surpass the record it hit last summer. But tech stocks have slumped badly in the last couple of weeks, dragging down the index with them.
Last week's big loser was Snyder Communications Inc., which on Thursday issued what looked at first glance like a healthy earnings report. But the fine print detailed unexpectedly large restructuring charges and Snyder stock tanked Friday, plunging to less than $20 a share from almost $29.
That hit may teach the company's chairman, Dan Snyder, what it's like to be the co-owner of the Redskins.