Bulls and Bears: Catalogers Outperform the S&P 500

Ticker symbol Company Price as of 6/5/03 52-week high 52-week low % price change last month Revenue per share T4Q % total debt/total capital
DIRECT TO CONSUMER
FLWS 1-800-Flowers.com $8.17 $11.30 $4.75 9.7% $8.18 11.3%
BL Blair Corp. 20.94 26.80 18.25 (3.0) 70.96 6.1
CWTR Coldwater Creek 13.55 17.05 7.97 26.1 29.78 0
HNV Hanover Direct 0.23 0.35 0.16 5.3 3.26 43.9
JILL J. Jill Group 15.94 27.50 9.51 6.3 17.66 9.8
LVC Lillian Vernon Corp. 7.16 8.25 3.65 0.1 29.72 0
MBAY MediaBay 0.88 5.20 0.64 9.9 3.39 63.2
SPGLA Spiegel 0.10 1.30 0.04 35.1 22.53 466.8
DIRECT TO BUSINESS
BBOX Black Box Corp. $39.16 $51.39 $25.58 17.2% $29.68 13.9%
CDWC CDW Computer Centers 41.27 56.58 36.30 (4.4) 48.92 0
HSIC Henry Schein 49.88 57.73 34.17 14.0 64.82 22.5
MSM MSC Industrial Direct 19.20 20.00 9.30 2.7 12.01 0.3
NEB New England Business Service 28.53 28.98 19.99 6.1 40.68 52.4
PCCC PC Connection 8.43 9.80 3.72 5.8 49.82 4.2
MALL PC Mall 3.62 4.65 1.76 2.9 81.59 4.1
PFP Premier Farnell 6.52 9.10 4.25 (2.3) 7.84 74.9
SCHS School Specialty 26.25 28.70 17.02 13.9 40.08 52.1
SSPY Sport Supply Group 1.80 2.10 1.10 0 11.41 31.6
TESS Tessco Technologies 7.21 13.75 6.25 13.5 60.45 20.8
ZONS Zones 1.05 1.92 0.60 30.4 30.27 0.7
Source: StockVal, Bloomberg

The weather in much of the country was dismal and gray throughout May, but the sun was shining on a number of publicly traded catalogers. Of the 20 public companies tracked for Catalog Age by Waukee, IA-based Financial Advisory Partners, only three — apparel and home goods mailer Blair Corp., CDW Computer Centers, and electronic components cataloger Premier Farnell — saw their stock value decline. And none of them lost more than 5% of their value at that.

“With the Iraq war over and global leaders working to smooth ruffled feathers, the stock market has been reacting well to the reduced level of risk in the market,” says Ken Packer, managing partner of Financial Advisory Partners.

As a group, catalogers outperformed the S&P 500 in May. While the S&P 500 rose more than 5%, the consumer catalog stocks increased an average of 11%. That figure was skewed by two companies, however: women’s apparel marketer Coldwater Creek, which rose 26%, and general merchandiser Spiegel, which enjoyed the biggest gain at 35%. (And because Spiegel’s stock was trading for just pennies, that seemingly large increase brought the price to only a dime a share.)

The b-to-b stocks tracked increased more than 8% in May, “but as a group, they’ve been more broadly participating in the market upswing,” Packer notes. The strongest performers were computer reseller Zones, whose stock price rose 30%; networking solutions provider Black Box Corp., up 17%; and dental, medical, and veterinary supplier Henry Schein, which rose 14%.

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