Outdoor financials: Crocs rides high on acquisitions, licensing deals, plus Eddie Bauer, Stride Rite, Amer

Crocs rides high on acquisitions and licensing deals, Eddie Bauer shareholders told to OK deal by proxy advisory firms, Stride Rite increases quarterly dividend 17 percent and sets date for annual meeting, and Amer Sports exercises 2002 warrants.

Crocs rides high on acquisitions, licensing deals
Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) recently announced the acquisition of a company and the expansion of two licensing agreements. Its shares also hit a new high on the Nasdaq.

Crocs said it acquired Fury, a manufacturer of performance-driven hockey and lacrosse equipment, in October of 2006, and is now operating the company as a wholly owned subsidiary. The first product offering stemming from the Crocs relationship is Fury’s Aeroflex Series, which will feature Croslite, Crocs’ proprietary closed-cell material.

Separately, the company said it expanded a licensing deal with the National Hockey League. The agreement allows Crocs to license agreed logos for all 30 NHL teams and properties. Crocs also said it signed a similar agreement with the National Football League, allowing it to license agreed logos for all 32 NFL teams, as well as the NFL, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. A limited amount of NHL- and NFL-branded merchandise will be available during the current season with a full introduction before the 2007/2008 season.

Shares of Crocs hit a new high on Jan. 17 after Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Jeff Mintz said in a note to clients that he was raising his fourth quarter and 2007 earnings estimates based on Crocs’ recent deals with the NHL and NFL, and the acquisition of Jibbitz last month.

“We believe the company has significant opportunities in 2007 including incremental sales driven by Jibbitz, additional international doors and new styles that expand the potential reach of the brand,” wrote Mintz.

He raised his fourth-quarter earnings estimate $0.03 to $0.46 per share. He also upped his 2006 earnings estimate by $0.03 to $1.56 and raised his 2007 estimate to $2.20 from $2.01. He raised his price target for the stock to $55 from $50.

Shares of Crocs hit a new high of $52 during Jan. 17 trading on the Nasdaq. It closed the day at $50.93. Previously, the stock traded between $20.32 and $50.25 since going public in February.

Eddie Bauer shareholders told to OK deal by proxy advisory firms
Eddie Bauer Holdings (Nasdaq: EBHI) reported that proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co. have both recommended that clients vote in favor of the company’s proposed sale to two investment companies.

Both companies concluded that the proposed deal would be in the best interests of the Eddie Bauer shareholders, the retailer said.

Under terms of the buyout offer announced in November, a holding company owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital has agreed to pay $286 million in cash, or $9.25 per share, and assume $328 million in debt.

Shareholders will vote on the deal, which was cleared by federal regulators in December, at a special meeting on Jan. 25. If approved, the sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007.

Stride Rite increases quarterly dividend 17 percent, sets date for annual meeting
The board of directors of Stride Rite (NYSE: SRR) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.07 per share on the company’s outstanding common stock. The dividend, which is payable March 15 to stockholders of record at the close of business Feb. 27, is a 17 percent increase over the previous quarterly rate of $0.06 per share.

The company added that its 2007 annual meeting of shareholders will be held at the company’s headquarters on April 12. At the annual meeting, shareholders will elect three directors for a three-year term, ratify the selection of its auditor and consider such other matters as may properly be brought before the meeting.

Stride Rite is the parent of Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider and Hind.

Amer Sports exercises 2002 warrants
A total of 358,380 Amer Sports’ shares have been subscribed for as a result of an exercise of the company’s 2002 warrants. The corresponding increase in the company’s share capital amounting to Euro 1.43 million (USD $1.85 million) was registered on Jan. 16, it said.

As a result of this increase, Amer Sports’ share capital now totals Euro 288.2 million (USD $373.2 million) and the total number of shares in issue is 72,056,004. Shareholder rights commenced from the Jan. 16 registration date. The new shares were listed on the Helsinki Exchanges on Jan. 17. The subscription period of Amer Sport’s 2002 warrant scheme will end on Dec. 31, 2007.

(Conversion of Euros into U.S. dollars is for information only, is not necessarily relative to earnings, and is based on the currency rate as of Jan. 16.)

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