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TheStreet Open House

The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Oct. 5

4. Wet Seal's Campaign

Seriously folks, forget about Romney versus Obama. The presidential contest is downright tame compared to the smear campaign being waged over Wet Seal's (WTSLA) board -- and not even a smidgen as stupid.

The latest exchange between the teen fashion retailer and the Clinton Group, the activist hedge fund which owns about 5% of its shares, occurred Monday when Wet Seal's management sent a letter to shareholders accusing the Clinton Group of day trading the company's shares. For those that may have forgotten, the Clinton Group failed in its June bid to push the company to sell itself, so it nominated a slate of board candidates to do its bidding instead.

"For example, over the past six trading days (Sept. 21-28), Clinton Group has sold over 127,000 Wet Seal shares at an average price of $3.22 and bought back only 33,000 shares at an average price of $3.12. Similarly, on Friday, September 7, the day Clinton Group filed its Consent Statement, it bought 155,000 shares at an average price of $3.10. The next trading day, Monday, September 10, Clinton Group turned around and sold 100,000 shares at $3.25," writes Wet Seal's current board in the letter, citing filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Based on all that activity, Wet Seal alleges that "one could speculate that Clinton is a seller when the stock trades above the $3.20 level."

Well, there's no debate that Clinton is doing a heck of a lot of buying and selling, almost as much as Hillary Clinton (no relation as far as we know) did when she was trading cattle futures back before Bill became president. And speaking of Hillary's husband, the Clinton Group was positively Clintonesque in its defense of its trading practices.

"The Board's claim that Clinton Group's motives are suspect because we have been 'day trading' the stock is absurd. We have been the single largest net buyer of the Company's stock in 2012," responded the Clinton Group.

Of course, they sold a lot of shares too, but not necessarily on the same day, or even the same week as their original purchase. So, technically speaking, the Clinton Group was not really day trading.

Or, to paraphrase Slick Willie himself, it depends on what the meaning of the words 'day' and 'trading' are.

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