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OAKLEY GETTING KICKS BY FLEXING ITS MARKETING MUSCLES
Published April 7, 1998
Oakley Inc.'s "undiminished aggressiveness has already made it one of the budding turnaround stories of 1998," according to James Sterngold of the N.Y. TIMES. The company's sunglasses, which received "much free publicity at the Winter Olympics" are "staging a comeback." Oakley is also introducing "an array of technologically innovative models" -- including the Racing Jacket, Mars and Minute lines. Despite high prices -- a pair in the Mars line can run up to $265 -- the "early signs are good," and Oakley said there are already indications of strong sales in the Racing Jacket and Mars lines. In two months, Oakley will launch a sports shoe, and if it succeeds in taking "even a couple of points of market share from Nike," Sterngold wrote that it would be "icing on the cake for a company that was long regarded as better at technological pizazz than at marketing muscle." Francis Gannon, a Portfolio Manager at Sun America Asset, which owns about 250,000 shares of Oakley stock: "Very few people have seen the shoe. But given [Oakley's] record, the shoe is the kicker to the story. The new products in their core sunglasses business will carry them, and the shoe, if it does O.K., could really propel them." BT Alex. Brown analyst Marcia Aaron said Oakley has "upgraded management and they've gone from being a hard-core sports company to more, I hate to use the 'F' word, of a fashion company." Aaron said that she expects Oakley stock to reach $15 per share within six months (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5). O' CANADA: Oakley has acquired its Canadian distributor's Oakley division and will rename it Oakley Canada Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed (Oakley).