Fitness: Did you hear?...

Hoist wins SGMA Product of the Year, All Around Fitness growing, Senator Tom Harkin PE4Life Legislator of Year, Financials summaries: Saucony, Russell, adidas-Salomon, Is the gym today's "corner bar?"
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Fitness: Did you hear?…

>> Hoist Fitness’ Quik Change Dumbbell System has won SGMA’s Sports Product of the Year award, but in a tie with Huffy’s Canopy Trike. The dumbbell system, introduced nearly a year ago, allows users to create dumbbells from 7.5 to 75 pounds by easily adding or removing metal plates. More than 200 products were entered in the initial contest, which was then narrowed by board members and retailers to 30 semi-finalists. The Super Show attendees voted on those to come up with the finalists, and media representatives voted via the Internet for the winner.

>> All Around Fitness in Seaside, Calif., is growing! Look for an expanded location soon from owner David Hamani, who has been too busy to even take a breath.

>> Senator Tom Harkin was selected as the PE4Life Legislator of the Year. He was awarded the honor last week during a lobbying effort for PE sponsored by SGMA. PE4Life Executive Director Anne Flannery presented the award along with the group’s founder, Jim Baugh. According to the group, Senator Harkin has been a champion of funding for the PEP Grant program to which Congress allocated $60 million for 2003.

>> Russell Corp. (NYSE: RML) has reported fiscal 2003 first quarter net sales of $228 million, a 6 percent increase over the comparable period last year. The company also reported earnings per diluted share of $.11, a 38 percent increase over the comparable period last year, which exceeded the First Call consensus estimate of $.09 per share for the quarter. The increase in net sales was driven by higher retail sales of Russell Athletic, JERZEES, Discus and Mossy Oak branded products. Gross profit was $62.8 million, or a 27.6 percent gross margin, for the 2003 first quarter versus a gross profit of $59.8 million, or a 27.7 percent gross margin, in the prior year. Russell in the last year has acquired Moving Comfort, Jagged Edge, Bike Athletic and non-golf Spalding.

>> Michigan now has a Single Business Tax (SBT) and the state has announced it will begin enforcing it against any out-of-state business entity conducting sales or business in the state that has not filled out an SBT tax return. The SBT is a value-added tax imposed on any company conducting business in the state and is based upon the gross receipts from business transactions in Michigan with a threshold of $250,000 for the tax year ending Dec. 31, 2002. California also made businesses aware it has had a similar tax on the books for decades, but has yet to really enforce the code. Contact your business tax consultant or legal advisor to be sure your business is in compliance.

>> Athletic shoe maker Saucony Inc. (Nasdaq: SCNYA) said first quarter earnings climbed, boosted by greater-than-expected sales -- an increase of 12.3 percent compared to a year ago -- and improving gross margins. The company, which also owns Hind, said it earned $2.6 million, or 42 cents a share in the quarter, compared with $1.3 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Net sales rose 12.3 percent to $39.1 million. Saucony, based in Peabody, Mass., said it expects earnings of 20 cents to 22 cents a share for the second quarter, and 2003 earnings of $1.02 to $1.09 a share. Net sales for the first quarter of 2003 were $39.1 million compared to $34.8 million in the first quarter of 2002 -- an increase due primarily to increased Saucony footwear unit volumes and increased Hind apparel unit volumes. Saucony brand footwear accounted for approximately 83 percent of the company's first quarter 2003 sales, while a combination of Hind apparel and factory outlet store revenues accounted for the balance.

>> The Medical Fitness Association (MFA) and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) have formed a professional service alliance to achieve greater results in encouraging older adults to become and stay physically active. The ICAA is the world's largest senior fitness and wellness association, and MFA is the only non-profit organization dedicated to medically based fitness, wellness and preventive health care. For the ICAA and its members, the MFA/ICAA alliance will offer resources and support for working to prevent and treat chronic conditions in older adults through physical activity. For more, go to www.icaa.cc or www.medicalfitness.org

>> adidas-Salomon has reported a first quarter net sales increase of 2 percent, with sales growing 12 percent on a currency-neutral basis. Gross margin grew 0.7 percentage points to 42.5 percent in 2003 from 41.8 percent in 2002. The group's net income increased 19 percent from Euro 43 million (USD $48.32 million) in 2002 to Euro 51 million (USD $57.3 million) in 2003. adidas revenues increased by 6 percent from Euro 1.330 million (USD $1.49 million) in the first three months of 2002 to Euro 1.405 million (USD $1.578 million) in 2003. On a currency-neutral basis, this increase was 16 percent and represents the brand's highest gain in more than four years. Drivers of this growth were strong developments in running, football and basketball. Salomon sales grew 1 percent (+7 percent currency-neutral). Strong growth in Europe and Asia drove net sales improvements; sales in North America declined 15 percent. www.adidas-Salomon.com.

>> In a Los Angeles Times story on April 28, the paper’s writer pointed out that the local gym could be taking the place of the corner bar: “Most people's gym routines go something like this: Get there, do some weights, some cardio, then leave.” But, then: “Today's gyms function as more than just a place to get fit…. Health clubs are also mini-communities, a "Cheers" bar for the physically fit, where regulars are greeted by name, where people chat about the Lakers, the war or that new restaurant down the street.” The writer pointed out that some gyms cater to people hanging around more with snack counters, juice bars, massages, salon treatments and TV rooms. The story continued: "Everything old is new again," says USC psychology professor Jerald Jellison. Decades ago, communities were formed at country clubs and social clubs, and today many people find comfortable niches through their churches and temples, schools and hobbies. "Gyms are fulfilling some of that function, and it talks about how strong that need is. You see people who spend a long time at the gym and you may want to say, 'Get a life,' but we had those venues in the past and we still need them, so we're creating them."

>> According to a recent Reuters report, a growing number of European-based companies are saying the outbreak of the SARS virus has begun to impact their businesses. That includes airlines who are grounding more flights due to slack business, hotels with empty rooms, and others manufacturers that say business is just down in general.

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