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).