>> Fitness PR all-around guy Michael Hoffman has pared down his involvement in the industry to get a Ph.D. behind his name. Sometime in late 2006, it'll be Dr. MH to you, thank you very much. Hoffman has started a post-graduate program in clinical psychology at the Pacific Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara, Calif. He's still working with Matrix Fitness, but that's about it right now. Oh, and you know he's serious about this: He even sold his beloved Harley.
>> Congress has finalized a 20-percent increase in funding for the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) program. This funding, part of the omnibus spending act, was expected to be approved last week. The funding will mean $60 million in 2003 will be provided in grants to local school districts and community organizations. PEP funding was $50 million in 2002 and $5 million in 2001. PEP grant funds are used to purchase fitness/sports equipment and train teachers in innovative physical education programs. Applications from local schools will be accepted by the U.S. Department of Education beginning in March. Grants will be awarded in September.
>> Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. (NASDAQ: BGFV) in the 2002 fourth quarter showed a net sales increase of $6.9 million, or 4.1 percent, to $176.7 million from $169.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Same store sales increased 0.4 percent versus the fourth quarter last year, representing the 28th consecutive quarterly increase in same store sales over comparable prior periods. Gross profit margin increased 0.5 percent during the fourth quarter to 36.1 percent from gross profit margin of 35.6 percent for the same period last year. For fiscal year 2002, net sales increased by $45.0 million, or 7.2 percent, to $667.5 million from $622.5 million for fiscal year 2001. Same store sales increased 4.0 percent over the prior fiscal year.
>> We know Valentine's Day was last week, but puuuleez.... Herewith, a headline on a press release from 24-Hour Fitness: "Research Shows Direct Correlation Between Exercise and Improved Sex Lives." No, seriously. According to the club chain, a gift of fitness to sweethearts "is almost a sure bet that their sex lives will improve too." Heck, they're so good, they even cited studies from universities to back up that sex claim. No, seriously. Oh, and hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day.
>> GSI Commerce Inc. (NASDAQ: GSIC) has entered into an agreement with Rockport Co. Inc., a Reebok-owned company, for GSI Commerce to operate the online retail store at rockport.com. GSI will develop and operate the e-commerce store at rockport.com, including technology, fulfillment and customer service. The online store will offer Rockport branded shoes for men, women and children as well as accessories including shoe care products and handbags. In other GSI news: Net revenue was $75.3 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002, which represents a 46.6 percent increase compared to net revenue of $51.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001.
>> Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) announced net sales for the 13-week period ended Feb. 1 increased 16.1 percent to $395.2 million compared with $340.5 million for the comparable 13-week period a year ago. Comparable store sales increased 4.9 percent for the 13-week period a year ago. The company said that, due to better-than-expected fourth quarter sales and margin rates, EPS guidance is being increased to a range of $0.80 to $0.81 per diluted share for the fiscal fourth quarter. Earnings for the year will be reported March 13.