On The Block

The board of directors of Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCE) has retained Lehman Brothers as a financial adviser to explore ways to improve operations and raise shareholder value. It was recently revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Ezra Dabah, the former CEO of the Secaucus, N.J.-based retailer of children’s clothing, had also hired an adviser to help put together a bid for the company. In a press release, the company said it was open to a variety of options, including operational improvements or a recapitalization. Shares of the company rose 3.6 percent the day it was announced that Lehman Brothers was brought aboard.

Meade Instruments Corp. (Nasdaq:MEAD), a manufacturer of telescopes and riflescopes, is weighing its strategic options and planning to make job cuts to save roughly $2 million a year. The company’s also looking to move its manufacturing plant to a cheaper location. The Irvine, Calif.-based company reported a net loss of $4 million during the quarter ended on Aug. 31, compared to a net loss of $5.9 million during the same period a year earlier. But revenues slipped to $16.2 million, down $2.4 million from the same quarter in 2006. In August the company sold, through a private placement, 3.1 million shares of common stock to a small group of investors, raising $6.1 million for working capital.

Looking to take advantage of expansion opportunities, Quintana Maritime Ltd. (Nasdaq:QMARW), an international provider of dry bulk cargo marine transportation services, is evaluating its alternatives. The Athens, Greece-based company’s board of directors has hired Citi and Dahlman Rose as financial advisers. Quintana Maritime owns a fleet of 22 vessels and operates seven more under charter agreements. The outlook for the dry bulk shipping market remains favorable, particularly since the worldwide amount of iron ore production capacity is expected to expand over the next 12 months, according to a research note from Jefferies and Co. Also, the continued demand for raw materials and port congestion at key export cities bode well for the industry.

With its stock price down about 40 percent this year, shoe maker Steven Madden Ltd. (Nasdaq:SHOO) has formed a strategic review committee to consider a possible sale of the company and other ways to boost shareholder value. The move comes after news that undisclosed third parties signaled interest in buying the Long Island City, N.Y.-based shoe maker. In October, the company, known for its eye-catching footwear styles and accessories, reduced its sales and earnings projections for the year, echoing earlier concerns about the discontinuation of its Jump, l.e.i., and Rule brands. Investment bank Peter J. Solomon & Co. is serving as financial adviser.