Bulls and Bears: Been Down So Long

Ticker symbol Company Price as of 8/5/02 52-week high 52-week low % price change last month % price change year to date Revenue per share T4Q % total debt/total capital
DIRECT TO CONSUMER
BL Blair Corp. $22.00 $26.80 $13.05 (5.8) (2.7) $71.03 6.2
CWTR Coldwater Creek 14.68 27.28 13.13 (36.0) (30.7) 43.16 0
FLWS 1-800-Flowers.com 5.45 17.86 5.33 (36.3) (65.1) 7.29 11.9
HNV Hanover Direct 0.21 0.54 0.19 (16.0) (43.2) 2.64 43.9
JILL J. Jill Group 19.41 27.5 6.8 (11.9) 35.2 15.57 13.5
LVC Lillian Vernon Corp. 0.54 9.1 6.05 (7.1) (1.7) 30.87 0
SPGLA Spiegel 0.28 10.49 1.01 (65.1) (93.9) 24.98 52.5
DIRECT TO BUSINESS
BBOX Black Box Corp. $32.29 $58.77 $32.09 (17.0) (38.9) $33.01 25.2
CDWC CDW Computer Centers 43.58 60 28.35 2.1 (18.9) 45.22 0
HSIC Henry Schein 41.95 50.59 31.61 (3.5) 13.3 59.74 28.1
MSM MSC Industrial Direct 15.5 24.36 13.9 (16.9) (21.5) 11.28 0.4
NEB New England Business Service 22.3 29.31 15.86 (5.5) 16.5 42.96 61.8
PCCC PC Connection 4.27 17.79 3.83 13.4 (71.2) 44.59 5.1
MALL PC Mall 2.8 5.1 1.61 (22.6) (31.0) 68.16 4.1
PFP Premier Farnell 5.48 10.1 4.58 (23.3) (37.4) 4.39 72.3
SCHS School Specialty 20.7 35.4 20.5 (11.6) (9.5) 38.87 45.2
SSPY Sport Supply Group 1.6 1.75 0.76 4.7 68.4 11.62 34.7
TESS Tessco Technologies 10.9 18.96 7.65 8.7 (36.4) 56.21 31.6
ZONS Zones 1.08 1.92 0.55 (17.9) 36.8 25.5 5.2
Source: Financial Advisory Partners and company filings

When your best-performing consumer catalog stock suffered a nearly 6% drop in value, you know it’s been a bad month. And indeed, July was such a month. Among the direct-to-consumer mailers, Blair Corp. saw its per-share price drop the least. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Spiegel’s stock price plummeted more than 65% in July. In comparison, the S&P 500 fell 7.9% in July.

The disappointing performance of the consumer catalog stocks “reflected the market’s increasingly pessimistic view about the outlook for Christmas in the face of a weaker-than-expected recovery,” says Ken Packer, managing partner at Des Moines, IA-based Financial Advisory Partners, which tracks catalogers’ stock prices for Catalog Age. Another factor, he adds, was “the impact of the weak stock market on consumer spending plans.” The result: a vicious circle in which falling stock prices produce reduced consumer spending, which causes falling stock prices.

The business-to-business catalogers performed somewhat better. Four of the 12 companies tracked — PC Connection, Tessco Technologies, Sport Supply Group, and CDW Computer Centers — actually saw their stock price rise in July. PC Connection was the biggest winner, with its price increasing more than 13% during the month. The biggest loser was Premier Farnell, the parent company of Newark Electronics: Its stock lost more than 23% of its value.

During the first seven months of 2002, only five of the 19 catalogers tracked enjoyed an increase in their stock value: J. Jill Group (the lone consumer marketer), Henry Schein, New England Business Service, Sport Supply Group, and Zones.

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