SBD/27/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

CAN SPORTS RETAILERS RECOVER FROM LABOR STRIFE?

     "After a disappointing holiday season, the slumping sports-
retailing business faces a big challenge:  Can spring and summer
sales make up for a mild winter and labor disputes," according to
Molly Baker in her small-stock focus in this morning's WALL
STREET JOURNAL.  Sports superstores are getting "mixed reviews"
on Wall Street and a disappointing 4th quarter at Sports &
Recreation and a bankruptcy filing by SportsTown have brought
most stocks to new lows.  Some analysts are showing no interest
in sports retailers' stocks, but others see this as a time to buy
while they are "at real value and the superstore penetration of
the sporting goods market is a mere 5% to 6%."  So far this year,
Sports & Recreation is down 59% while The Sports Authority has
slipped 7.4% -- both on NYSE.  SportMart has fallen 24% on
Nasdaq.  Analysts say superstore companies are going to have to
meet, if not exceed, expectations for at least a few quarters
before investors "take notice."  The return of Michael Jordan
"has added a few extra points to mild" 1st quarter sales (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 3/27).
     NOT IN THE CARDS?  Topps' 4thQ net income fell 78% on lower
sales as the company "continued to feel the effects of labor
disputes in professional sports."  The company said that net
income for the three months ended February 25 totaled $1M,
compared with $4.6M a year earlier.  Sales fell 12% to $56.6M
from $64M.  For the year, net income fell 41% to $15.7M from
$26.6M a year earlier (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).
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