Four Sports Stocks Every Trader Should Watch

09/07/2010 10:59 am EST


Johnson Outdoors (JOUT)

The company got its start in 1970 as an expression of Sam Johnson's (SC Johnson & Son) passion for the outdoors. Today, it operates in four segments: Marine electronics (Minn Kota), outdoor equipment (Eureka!), watercraft (Old Town), and diving (Scubapro). Its stock has taken a beating in recent years. An investment of $100 in September 2005 was worth $62 five years later, while the same $100 in the Nasdaq was worth $105. All of the damage came in during the recession as the stock fell 74% from $22.17 to $5.57. Much of this was due to a $41 million impairment charge in the fourth quarter of 2008, along with implementing a $20 million cost-saving program. If its recent Q3 earnings announcement is any indication, the worst is likely behind it. Net sales were up 7.9% in the quarter, gross margins were up 140 basis points, and net income grew by 16%. Earnings per share (EPS) in the first nine months of the year were $1.30—up 165% year over year. With a price-to-book (P/B) ratio of 0.8, I'm prepared to wait for better economic times.

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Finish Line (FINL)

Slightly more than two years ago, I wrote a favorable article about athletic footwear retailer Finish Line. At the time, its stock price was around $8.50, up from a frighteningly low $1.75 at the beginning of 2008. Value manager George Schultze bought 4.5 million shares in the first three months of 2008 and was out by September of that same year with a very nice profit. While he doesn't own any Finish Line stock today, an argument can be made that its current stock price isn't expensive despite the fact it has gained more than 100% in each of the last two years. When you're in the basement and you make your way out, it's going to happen. Regardless, its stock is currently trading at 10.5 times forward P/E estimates and has surprised on the upside in each of the last four quarters. It'll move up soon enough.

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NEXT: Two More Sports Stocks to Watch


Fortune Brands (FO)

The owner of Titleist golf equipment and Footjoy golf shoes has an amazing history dating back to before the creation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average index in May 1896. Back then, it was the American Tobacco Co., one of 12 companies in the index. American Tobacco's Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands suffered after the war as other manufacturers added filters to their cigarettes, making its products less appealing. To survive, American Tobacco went outside the tobacco industry for its growth, acquiring Sunshine Biscuits and Jim Beam Distillers in 1966. Other acquisitions would follow, prompting it to change its name in 1970 to American Brands. By 1996, it had sold off all its tobacco assets, leading it to change its name to Fortune Brands. Although no longer in the Dow, it's one of 21 companies still held in the ING Corporate Leaders Trust, a fund created with 30 leading stocks in 1935. Fortune Brands and its two predecessors have been part of the fund for 75 years. Here's to 75 more.

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CBS also has an interesting past, which I'll get to shortly. I'll begin by examining its Q2 results, not so much for their quality, but rather their composition. Sports-related activities primarily exist in two segments: 1) CBS Entertainment, which operates a sports division, broadcasting events such as the Masters, the Final Four, the NFL, and many others; and 2) Cable Networks, which includes the CBS College Sports Network. Although the cable properties generated just 11% of total revenue in Q2, they accounted for almost a quarter of its operating income. This tells me college sports continue to have a future—as does CBS.

Now, back to its convoluted past. CBS spun off its cable holdings (Viacom) in 1970 to comply with FCC rules forbidding television broadcasters from owning cable companies. In 1999, Viacom (VIA), by then controlled by Sumner Redstone, merged with CBS, remaining together until January 2006, when they became two separately traded companies. Since then, both are down, Viacom by 12.7% and CBS by 33%. It makes you wonder why everything happened in the first place. Let's hope this time it's for good.

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By Will Ashworth of
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