SBD/Issue 1/Finance

Callaway Will Vault Among Leaders In Golf Ball Market Share

Callaway’s Acquisition Pushes Company
Into Lead For Golf Balls

Callaway Golf's pending $174.4M acquisition of Top-Flite would "dramatically change Callaway," as the company, "previously an also-ran in the ball category, ... will leap past Maxfli, Precept and Nike to control nearly 22[%] of the market at on- and off-course shops, second only to Acushnet Co., which markets the Titleist and Pinnacle brands," according to Martin Kaufmann of GOLFWEEK. The deal will also give Callaway a "dominant position in sporting goods stores, with share exceeding 30[%]." Kaufmann writes that Callaway "almost certainly will wind down operations at the Carlsbad plant. It will have to juggle bicoastal operations and deal for the first time with unionized factories. Moreover, Callaway must stop the bleeding at Top-Flite, where sales and margins have been deteriorating rapidly." Top-Flite had '02 sales of $226M, down more than $100M from a few years earlier. One analyst said, "Even if Callaway does rationalize the manufacturing, I feel like they'll give it all back to retailers or consumers because it's so deflationary" (GOLFWEEK, 9/13 issue).

CHANNEL SURFING: GOLFWORLD's Sirak & Russell write that potentially the "biggest change will be a more visible Top-Flite brand through increased marketing, advertising and promotion. Callaway has always heavily supported its products and will do more of the same with Top-Flite." As far as Callaway products being sold at mass-merchant stores, Drapeau said, "We are acutely aware that consumers' behavior is changing, and we're watching and studying that. We're very supportive of our existing channels, and we don't intend to step on those relationships. ... But we have to be aware that these other channels have opened for golf" (GOLFWORLD, 9/12 issue).

WELL-EQUIPPED: With Callaway set to acquire Top-Flite's Hogan and Strata brands, GOLFWORLD's E. Michael Johnson, wrote, "Although no specifics have been offered by Callaway, it should be noted that some of Hogan/Strata's bigger names — Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and Len Mattiace — do not use a Callaway driver, while Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton has been using the Great Big Bertha II" (GOLFWORLD, 9/12).

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