Bulls and Bears: What Goes Down Must Come Up

Ticker symbol Company Price as of 2/2/04 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 $9.97 $12.14 $6.09 (7.9%) $8.66 8.3%
BL Blair Corp. 24.07 25.83 20.10 (1.2) 72.47 6.1
CWTR Coldwater Creek 15.32 15.41 5.70 32.6 17.85 0
HNV Hanover Direct 0.27 0.35 0.17 27.3 3.13 45.8
JILL J. Jill Group 13.05 19.54 9.51 0.7 18.49 9.8
MBAY MediaBay 1.00 1.65 0.60 (9.1) 3.08 57.5
SPGLQ Spiegel 0.18 0.71 0.03 236.4 21.85 466.8
DIRECT TO BUSINESS
BBOX Black Box Corp. $51.13 $58.61 $25.58 13.0% $27.57 9.3%
CDWC CDW Corp. 68.00 70.21 36.30 17.6 54.15 0
HSIC Henry Schein 70.03 72.26 34.17 3.8 70.26 22.5
MSM MSC Industrial Direct 28.26 29.92 15.65 2.7 12.44 0.3
NEB New England Business Service 30.00 32.00 20.70 1.5 47.02 51.2
PCCC PC Connection 10.01 13.47 4.80 23.8 49.58 4.2
MALL PC Mall 15.14 18.22 2.90 (11.7) 82.18 39.4
PFP Premier Farnell 9.60 9.95 4.25 17.1 7.08 97.5
SCHS School Specialty 36.71 37.08 17.02 7.9 40.59 47.8
SSPY Sport Supply Group 2.00 2.30 1.45 0 11.39 38.7
TESS Tessco Technologies 15.47 18.77 6.11 9.3 70.59 10.1
ZONS Zones 2.75 3.14 0.60 68.8 31.88 0.7
Sources: StockVal, Bloomberg

You could get whiplash trying to follow the ups and downs of catalog stocks during the past few months. For the fiscal month ended Jan. 2, 63% of the 19 companies tracked — including all seven of the consumer catalogers — suffered a decline in stock value. A month later, 74% of the companies tracked for Catalog Age by Des Moines, IA-based Financial Advisory Partners had gained in value.

The greatest gainer in January was — surprise — embattled Spiegel. The general merchandiser, which filed for Chapter 11 last year, gained 236%, closing at $0.18 a share. Perhaps investors were optimistic about the company’s catalog redesign (see “Spiegel Spruces Up Its Big Book — Again” on page 9).

On the business-to-business side, computer reseller Zones was the big winner, gaining nearly 69% to close at $2.75 a share. The increase coincided with the company’s announcement of its fiscal 2003 results: Not only had annual sales grown 11%, but Zones had turned around 2002’s net loss to post earnings of $1.6 million.

Only one of the 12 b-to-b mailers (computer marketer PC Mall) declined in value. Ken Packer, managing partner of Financial Advisory Partners, expects the business catalogers to remain strong in the coming months. “The industrial business sector has only just begun to come to life after lagging behind the general economy for the past few years,” he says. As business spending recovers, investors will likely favor b-to-b stocks.

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