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The athletic-footwear industry "is expected to report lackluster fourth-quarter results, reflecting a continuing swing away from the traditional athletic look to other casual styles," according to Joseph Pereira of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The "fashion shift could mean at least six more months, and possibly up to a year, of sluggishness as retailers clear out inventories before resuming the aggressive buying that marked the year-ago period." Sporting Goods Intelligence estimates that '97 U.S. footwear sales "climbed less than" 3% to $7.7B. Pereira adds that one alternative brand "cashing in" on the fashion switch is Vans Inc., while adidas AG "is expected to reverse a year- earlier loss" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12). NIKE CFO OUT: Nike CFO Robert Falcone resigned last week to "pursue other opportunities," according to a REUTERS report. Nike named controller Robert Harold as interim CFO and accounting officer, pending the selection of a permanent successor to Falcone. Nike's recent second-quarter earnings report "fell well short of Wall Street expectations," leading some analysts "to question whether Falcone had been pressured to leave" (REUTERS, 1/10). QUARTER LOSS: FL-based The Sports Authority said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be "about" $0.35 a share, compared to $0.50 a share the previous year, due to "slow holiday sales and the cost of store closings," according to the MIAMI HERALD. Fourth-quarter sales are expected to be about $422M, with comparable store sales about 3.5% lower than the same period last year (MIAMI HERALD, 1/10). TSA Chair/CEO Jack Smith said "several key sporting goods segments such as fitness, licensed products and footwear were especially weak" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12).
SportsLine USA announced record revenue and site traffic for the fourth quarter ended December 31, '97. Quarterly revenue increased to $4.4M, up 250% from the $1.3M in '96's same quarter. Traffic on SportsLine's Web sites grew 250%, averaging 2.8 million page views daily in '97, as compared to 800,000 daily in '96. SportsLine's net loss for the quarter was $7.2M, or $0.42 per share, compared to $4.2M, or $0.45 per share in the '96 quarter (SportsLine).
Topps Co. reported a net loss for the third quarter, ended November 29, of $8.5M, or $0.18 a share, compared with a net loss of $18.5M, or $0.39 per share, a year-earlier. For the nine months ended November 29, Topps reported a net loss of $9.5M, compared with a net loss of $13.5M for the year-earlier period (CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS, 1/5 issue). In N.Y., Bill Madden added Topps "eliminated 30 jobs, including its PR operation, headed by former Yankee publicist and TV producer Marty Appel" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/11).