Bulls and Bears: How Low Can You Go?

Ticker symbol Company Price as of 8/29/02 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
FLWS 1-800-Flowers.com $9.50 $17.86 $4.75 (36.3%) (39.1%) $7.38 11.9%
BL Blair Corp. 20.75 26.80 13.05 (5.8) (8.2) 70.97 6.2
CWTR Coldwater Creek 15.60 27.15 13.13 (36.0) (26.3) 43.16 0
HNV Hanover Direct 0.30 0.54 0.19 (16.0) (18.9) 2.84 43.9
JILL J. Jill Group 23.85 27.50 6.80 (11.9) 66.2 16.34 13.5
LVC Lillian Vernon Corp. 5.85 9.10 5.50 (7.1) (12.0) 30.87 0
SPGLA Spiegel 0.63 10.21 1.01 (65.1) (86.2) 24.98 52.5
DIRECT TO BUSINESS
CDWC CDW Computer Centers 42.36 60.00 28.35 2.1 (21.1) 45.22 0
HSIC Henry Schein 50.29 53.35 31.90 (3.5) 35.8 60.82 28.1
MSM MSC Industrial Direct 13.00 24.36 9.30 (16.9) (34.2) 11.28 0.4
NEB New England Business Service 23.37 29.31 15.86 (5.5) 22.0 42.96 61.8
PCCC PC Connection 5.86 17.79 3.83 13.4 (60.5) 44.59 5.1
MALL PC Mall 2.36 5.10 1.61 (22.6) (41.9) 68.16 4.1
PFP Premier Farnell 5.70 10.10 4.58 (23.3) (34.9) 8.30 74.9
SCHS School Specialty 23.66 35.4 19.88 (11.6) 3.4 37.44 45.2
SSPY Sport Supply Group 1.40 1.75 0.76 4.7 47.4 11.49 34.7
TESS Tessco Technologies 12.00 18.96 7.65 8.7 (30.0) 56.21 31.6
ZONS Zones 1.07 1.92 0.55 (17.9) 35.6 25.50 5.2
Source: Financial Advisory Partners and company filings

Direct marketing stocks had another tough month in August. The average stock price of the consumer catalogers tracked for Catalog Age by Waukee, IA-based Financial Advisory Partners fell 26.3%; the average business-to-business stock price slipped 7.3%. Store-based retailing stocks, meanwhile, had a strong showing; general retailing stocks were up 78%, the department store index rose up 12%, and the clothing store index was up 0.26%. Overall, the S&P 500 increased 3.75% during the past month, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.9%.

“The stock market downturn among the direct marketers corresponds to U.S. Commerce Department data that show direct marketers losing market share this year to store-based retailers for the first time since the recession of 1990,” says Ken Packer, managing partner of Financial Advisory Partners. In effect, Packer says, the market is punishing catalogers for eliminating mailings to their worst customers and for cutting back on costly prospecting — decisions that may bolster the bottom line but curtail top-line growth.

For traditional retailers, “it is difficult to temporarily close a store, so stores that lose money or are just marginally profitable stay open, helping sales but hurting profits,” Packer says. “This seems misunderstood in the marketplace, leading to direct marketers’ underperforming during recessionary periods.”

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