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Hedge fund raises stake in CPK

LOS ANGELES Farallon Capital Management LLC, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, said it upped its stake in California Pizza Kitchen Inc. to about 1.56 million shares, or a 5.3 percent stake.

In a filing made Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, officials of the investment firm said they might discuss the chain's operations with management but had no plans to acquire a controlling interest in the Los Angeles-based casual-dining company.

Farallon's various funds purchased the CPK stock for about $26.1 million in aggregate, for per-share prices ranging between $15.01 and $17.24. The purchases were made between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27. CPK's stock price has fallen 28 percent this year through Nov. 30, a drop that was adjusted for the company's stock split in June.

In its latest third quarter ended Sept. 30, California Pizza Kitchen reported that revenue increased 13.5 percent from a year ago to $162 million, aided by a same-store sales increase of 3.5 percent. Its profit fell sharply from a year ago to $1.4 million, or 5 cents per share, mainly on a 20-cents-per-share charge for closure costs related to CPK/ASAP units. In the year-ago third quarter, CPK had earned $6.6 million, or 23 cents per share.

The company operates, franchises or licenses 221 restaurants under the California Pizza Kitchen, CPK/ASAP and L.A. Food Show brands.

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