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Today's news...5/19/05

MAY 19, 2005 -- Foot Locker Bottom Line Up 19%

Foot Locker's 1Q net income increased 19% to 37 per share, or $58 million, from 31¢ per share, or $48 million last year. While the EPS was at the high end of Foot Locker's guidance, it was a penny below Wall Street estimates. Included in 1Q04's results was a gain of $1 million related to discontinued operations. For 1Q05, sales increased 16.1% to $1,377 million compared to sales of $1,186 million for 1Q04. 1Q comp-store sales increased 2.6%.

"We are pleased that our pre-tax profit from continuing operations increased by 23% and, as a percentage of sales, by 40 basis points from the first quarter of last year," stated CEO Matt Serra. "Our earnings per share was at the high end of the guidance that we provided at the beginning of the quarter and, as a result, we remain comfortable that we will be able to continue to post income from continuing operations per share increases in the 10%-to-20% range for the balance of 2005. We currently expect our second quarter earnings per share from continuing operations to increase towards the high end of this 10%-20% range, with an opportunity to exceed this guidance if our current sales trend continues."

Serra continued, "One of Foot Locker, Inc.'s unique strengths is its diversified portfolio of businesses operating in global markets. As expected, our first quarter profit increase was driven by our combined United States store businesses, which benefited from increased sales of higher-priced marquee footwear that led to higher average selling prices. Increased profits by our highly suburban-based Champs Sports division, and earnings accretion from our recently acquired more urban-concentrated Footaction stores, both contributed to our improving first quarter results. While business remained challenging in the European markets where we operate, our divisional profit and profit margin at Foot Locker Europe was strong." During the conference call, Serra also praised the turnaround at Lady Foot Locker.

During 1Q05, Foot Locker opened 23 new stores; remodeled/relocated 90 stores and closed 62 stores. At April 30, it operated 3,928 stores in 18 countries in North America, Europe and Australia. This represents an increase of 341 stores, or approximately 10% versus 1Q04, primarily as a result of the acquisition of the Footaction chain.

Gander Mountain 1Q Loss Increased

Gander Mountain reported 1Q sales increased to $135.1 million, an increase of 37% over 1Q04. Comp-store sales decreased 1% after an increase of 8.7% in the first quarter of 2004. The net loss was $17.6 million, compared to a $13.8 million restated loss for 1Q04.

"First quarter results keep us on track to meet our 2005 financial plan," said Mark Baker, president and CEO. "We are satisfied with our results for this quarter, which accounts for only about 15% of sales due to seasonality. We saw solid comparable store sales gains in hunting, our largest product category, and in marine accessories." The company said it was unlikely that Gander would produce positive cash flow this year or next,

In 1Q05, the company opened six new stores, including one relocated store, bringing the total store count to 87 at the end of the quarter. Three of the new stores expand the company's presence in markets where the Gander Mountain brand was introduced in 2004, namely, Texas and Colorado.

The other new stores extend the company's reach into Minnesota, New York and Indiana. Since the end of the quarter, we have opened two additional stores, including a fourth Texas store in Beaumont and a new store in Dayton. In FY05, the company anticipates opening a total of 18 to 20 stores, including three or four store relocations or consolidations. New store growth will reinforce current markets as well as extend the company's brand into new markets.

Reebok Pulls Rapped UK Ad

After taking flack in the UK for an ad that many saw as glorifying violence, Reebok pulled a TV spot featuring 50 Cent. The Advertising Standards Authority received 55 complaints about the ad, which showed the rapper counting to nine in reference to the number of times he has been shot. The Disarm Trust didn't hide its disgust, calling the spot "irresponsible and despicable" and "preying on young, impressionable black males." Reebok said only a small percentage of the viewers found the spot in poor taste.

On another note, Reebok was downgraded to neutral weight from overweight at Prudential Equity Group, based on valuation. "The stock has outperformed the group and the market over the last six months," said analyst Lizabeth Dunn. "We think the opportunities for stock-price appreciation are relatively in-line with our group going forward." Possible negatives for the stock include a currency revaluation in China, a prolonged NHL lockout and soft apparel sales. She didn't say anything about an NBA lockout that is possible this summer. That would affect everyone in the basketball shoe business.

Tommy To Sponsor Major League Lacrosse

Tommy Hilfiger USA signed a sponsorship agreement with Major League Lacrosse. The MLL, launched in 2001, is a six-team professional outdoor lacrosse league based in the northeastern US with western expansion set for 2006. The MLL showcases 120 top lacrosse players.

Effective immediately, Tommy Hilfiger will be an official sponsor of Major League Lacrosse and the MLL's official uniform supplier. Other sponsorship rights include in-stadium branding, PA announcements and scoreboard messages at all games. In addition, Tommy receives advertising space in MLL Game Day Programs, branding on the MLL website and live game telecasts, as well as player appearances.

Wolverine Boots and Gear signed Paramount Apparel International to develop and market Wolverine brand headwear for men. The headwear will be available at select retailers beginning this fall.

Aldila declared an increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 10¢ per share and a one-time special dividend of $1.00 per share both to be paid on June 21 to shareholders of record as of June 7.

New Era Cap is launching its brand extension, a fashion headwear brand, "EK by New Era." First shown at The Magic Show in February 2005, EK by New Era will deliver to retail stores in August. The debut line will present 12 fashion hat silhouettes including Gatsby, Newsboy and Military styles, utilizing cashmeres, wools and cottons.

A jury awarded Ron Perelman another $850 million. This is the punitive damage and is on top of the $600 million he was awarded in damages. The case revolves around Morgan Stanley's role in the sale of Coleman that Perelman owned to Sunbeam.

Dick's Sporting Goods hired Douglas Walrod as SVP/real estate and development. Walrod joined Dick's with 30 years of real estate, development and leasing experience. Most recently, he was with Sears Roebuck as VP/real estate, responsible for the store growth program, including strategic planning, site selection, property management, and lease administration.


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Sporting goods industry

Foot Locker Inc.
Gander Mountain Inc.
Reebok Pulls Rapped UK Ad
MLL Game Day Programs

continuing operations
Gander Mountain
store growth
quarter results

Matt Serra
Major League Lacrosse
Mark Baker
Lizabeth Dunn
League Lacrosse

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