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Home Golfsmith could be sold

 

As March begins, it may seem strange to look back at last year. However, with it being earning season on Wall Street, several companies are in that position. In one breath the focus is on the past, which is ancient history in the investment world’s eyes, but it quickly moves towards the future, which puts Golfsmith (GOLF: NASDAQ) in an intriguing position.

Despite rugged U.S. business conditions in 2011, Golfsmith managed to see its top line revenues improve over 2010. Economic woes continue to plague the American market, which contributed to less recreational golf played and course closures. However, the equipment retailer posted net revenues of $387.3 million for the year ending 2011 as compared to net revenues of $351.9 million in 2010. According to the company, the improvement reflected a 4.7% increase in comparable store sales and a 9.2% increase in net revenues from its direct-to-consumer channel for the year.

Fourth quarter sales improved marginally, due to a tough October, the company said. Sales in the final quarter of the fiscal year increased 2.3% to $74.5 million as compared to $72.9 million in 2010. “We had a double digit decrease in October, for a combination of reasons. Came back in November where we were down less than 1% basically flat in December. But we were disappointed obviously in October,” explained Marty Hanaka, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Golfsmith. “Our (store) traffic was down 6% and that’s the byproduct of killing a direct marketing event that we wish we hadn’t,” he continued. “Our web demand was solid, it was up 16% for the quarter and 19% for the year, but again in October only a 3% gain.”

Net income, the most important factor for the long-term viability of any business, totaled $0.9 million, for fiscal year 2011, compared to net loss of $5.5 million in 2010. The bottom line was impact by an unusual item.

“Last year was a terrific driver year,” said Hanaka, “and the TaylorMade product really was a catalyst for big unit sales. The average order value was much higher; in fact we are moving some $399 drivers again. We’ve all been very concerned that we could make those units (again in 2012) because it was a pretty exceptional last year. The fact of the matter is TaylorMade has come out with another product called RocketBallz. They have the anniversary of the R11 with an R11S product at the same price point. It’s not matching up to R11, but the good news is the Fairway Woods are selling like hot cakes. Everybody wants this new Fairway Wood, and a lot of people who are R11 owners are replacing it with the new R11. The net result is through the first five weeks, six weeks of the launch year-over-year, we’ve crossed the line and the net dollars are better for us,” he said. TaylorMade launched its new products on February 1st thus giving the retailer limited time to track sell through of the products to consumers.

The golf business is seasonal by nature, largely due to old man winter invading a majority of the United States. However, with spring around the corner and the Masters only a month away, the retail business is ramping up. “The big month is March, it’s equal to January and February combined,” Hanaka said. While its still early in the season and it remains to be seen what Mother Nature has in store, the retailer is hopeful that 2012 has more upside to it.

Remaining on the theme of the past and future, Golfsmith revealed it incurred $1.3 million in costs in 2011 associated with exploring a strategic transaction that may include a potential sale of the company. It provided this disclosure in light of the magnitude of the $1.3 million expenses incurred outside of the ordinary course of business. To date it has not reached an agreement with respect to such a transaction and Golfsmith said it couldn’t predict whether an agreement will ever be reached. Stay tuned!