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Short news...4/5/04

APRIL 05, 2004 -- The Coalition for Responsible Development has put up a billboard in North Little Rock protesting breaks that Bass Pro Shop is getting to locate a branch there. The billboard proclaims: "We'll welcome Bass Pro if they'll pay their own way."

Cabela's likes its aid packages too. According to the Ft. Worth Star Telegram: "Cabela's isn't going anywhere without big bucks from the community. With most companies, a public incentive is icing on the cake, an extra bonus that makes the deal work better in a location to which they were headed anyway. With Cabela's, tax breaks are a key to the growth strategy. That's probably because it can command so much money, which offsets the expense of its 200,000-square-foot stores. Without a lot of public aid, Cabela's might stop building the megastores altogether, according to the prospectus for its planned public offering. 'If similar packages are unavailable in the future or the terms are not as favorable to us, our return on investment in new stores would be adversely affected, and we may choose to significantly alter our destination retail store expansion strategy,' the prospectus states. That means Fort Worth doesn't get the project unless it ponies up big-time. The first test of any economic sweetener: Is it necessary to get the deal done? City leaders almost never know for sure, because companies are sly enough to use stalking horses to drive up the bidding. But with Cabela's, there's no doubt: no money, no company. Cabela's has built three superstores since 2000, and each got a ton in public aid. The location near Detroit received $28 million; in Hamburg, Pa., it was $27 million; near Kansas City, Kan., the incentives totaled $66 million. That puts Fort Worth in the economic ballpark although the Alliance (TX) location already benefits from the enormous public infusion of past years. The location along I-35W is also directly in the path of growth; it's not economically depressed; and some development is coming its way, tax breaks or not."

Décathlon, having bombed in the US, has big plans for China. It opened its first self-service sports store in China in Shanghai last November. "Sales in the Shanghai store are 30% better than what we expected during the past five months," said Hervé Danilo, the French chain’s Asian director told China Daily. "With the success of the Shanghai store, we decided to open as many as possible in the country," he said. The company moved its Asian headquarters from Hong Kong to Shanghai last year to better develop its retail business on the Chinese mainland. It will first focus its retail business in Beijing and Shanghai and then expand to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other big cities, he said. "We are expecting to have a minimum of one store in Beijing next year and at least four by 2008," Danilo said. Meanwhile, another two stores are being planned for Shanghai.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission fined Fila Sport Oceania a hefty A$3 million for uncompetitive conduct. With a multimillion-dollar contract to sell clothing associated with five teams in the Australian Football League, Fila was charged with using its clout to put pressure on retailers not to stock competitive brands by threatening to withhold its own products. The conduct occurred between 1999 and 2001. Last year, Fila was given leave to withdraw its defense, in substance then admitting liability. The Trade Practices Act prohibits "exclusive dealing," which includes a corporation supplying or offering to supply goods on the condition that the person concerned will not acquire goods of a particular kind from a competitor. The maximum fine is A$10 million. Fila implicated itself in a confidential memo sent to personnel by a senior exec in 2000. The essence of this memo was that Fila would not supply its apparel to any retailer that stocked or planned to stock apparel for any Fila-associated team from a competing Team Spirit apparel license holder. Team Spirit does not offer a replica of the team uniforms, but features their colors and logos.

The funding bill formerly known as CARA (the Conservation and Reinvestment Act) was re-introduced on April 1 by its champions Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus member Representative Don Young (R-AK) and Representative George Miller. The new Get Outdoors Act, or "GO Act" would dedicate over $3 billion of outer continental shelf oil and gas receipts towards parks and wildlife programs using the same allocations as were included in the CARA bill that passed the House in 2000. This year's proposal is being couched in the concept that protecting open spaces and public parks is critical to maintaining the health of an increasingly sedentary citizenship. Obesity related health problems cost nearly $100 billion annually, bill sponsors stated, and providing more opportunities for individuals to get outdoors and recreate will help with this national epidemic…The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association will be hosting the fifth annual Congressional Casting Call at Fletcher's Boathouse on the Potomac River April 26 and 27. Timed to coincide with the shad run, the event will kick off with a Family Fishing Derby at 4 p.m. on Monday April 26 where members of Congress and Administration officials can bring their families to get instruction in fly-fishing and fly-tying. The next morning, participants will once again have the opportunity to learn fly-fishing techniques from the nation's leading instructors while spending time on the river. This year, US Fish and Wildlife Service Director will be speaking during lunch to announce the full recovery of the shad fishery in the mid-Atlantic region. This conservation success story is a true testament to the effectiveness of cooperative fish and wildlife conservation. If you would like to attend the Casting Call, go to http://www.sportsmenslink.org/events/castingcall/index.asp to download the agenda and reservation form. Cost for CSF Sportsmen's Council members is $175, non-council members, $300.

Hilliard Lyons Research reiterated its long-term buy rating on The Finish Line. The target price has been raised from $42 to $45.

Liquidmetal Technologies will not file its 2003 Annual Report on Form 10-K by March 30 as previously announced due to additional time required to complete a review and analysis relating to the company's restatement of results for certain prior periods. The company said that, as a result of the restatement process, it has not finalized the financial information to be included in the 10-K and has not completed its audit for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2003. The company said it would file its Form 10-K as quickly as possible after completing the restatement process.

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