Fitness financials: adidas-Salomon takes restrictions off U.S. trade, plus Hibbett, Finish Line, Sears Holding Corp., Wal-Mart, Costco, Sears

adidas-Salomon takes restrictions off U.S. trade, Holiday gift-cards give Hibbett 30-percent boost, Finish Line's Q3 same-store sales up 8 percent, Sears Holdings launches $4 billion revolving credit facility, and Five-week sales reports for Wal-Mart, Costco and Sears.

adidas-Salomon takes restrictions off U.S. trade
Starting Jan. 5, adidas-Salomon (XETRA: ADSG.DE) opened trade in its shares in the United States to more investors, upgrading its American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) to an unrestricted level. Represented by the symbol ADDYY, each ADR represents one-half of one bearer share of adidas-Salomon's common stock.

Adidas has had an ADR program since 1995 to attract U.S. investors, but trade had been restricted to "qualified institutional buyers."

"We've seen very strong interest in adidas-Salomon from investors in the U.S. market," said adidas-Salomon CFO Robin Stalker. "A significant percentage of our shares are already held by U.S. investors. And we believe there is considerably more potential for our shares in this important market. We are setting up this program to provide the opportunity for more U.S. investors to participate in the group's future performance."

The Bank of New York will act as depositary bank for these ADRs, which have been assigned the CUSIP number 00687A107. adidas-Salomon said they will be initially priced at $80.

Holiday gift-cards give Hibbett 30-percent boost
Hibbett Sporting Goods' (NasdaqNM: HIBB) same-store sales for the nine weeks ended Jan. 1, 2005, rose 5 percent on holiday spending. For the same period, total sales rose 17.2 percent to $80.9 million from $69 million. The sporting goods retailer said its gift-card sales rose more than 30 percent from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The company said it expects to report fourth-quarter sales Feb. 3, and earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year on March 9. Analysts predict fourth-quarter earnings per share of 31 cents on revenue of $104.4 million.

Finish Line's Q3 same-store sales up 8 percent
For the third quarter ended Nov. 27, 2004, Finish Line's (Nasdaq: FINL) net income was $2.3 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, compared with $2.2 million, or $0.04 cents a share a year ago. The retailer said it realized a benefit from a gain on a tornado insurance settlement of $0.01 per diluted share. Net sales increased 16 percent to $235.3 million vs. 2003's $202.0 million. Same-store net sales increased 8 percent. In Q3, the company operated 592 stores, an increase of 11 percent from last year's 532. It has opened 65 new stores (of the planned 71 new stores), remodeled 26 existing stores and closed four stores.

Sears Holdings launches $4 billion revolving credit facility
Sears Holdings Corp., currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Kmart Holding Corp. created to facilitate the business combination between Kmart Holding Corp. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., announced the launch of syndication for a $4 billion Senior Secured Revolving Credit Facility. Sears Holdings Corp. will be the holding company for the Sears and Kmart businesses after completion of the business combination, which is expected to close by early March 2005. Already $3.5 billion has been committed toward the facility by eight financial institutions. The plan is for the facility to be available for five years to fund working capital needs, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes.

The credit facility would become effective once Kmart Holding Corp. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. finally merge, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. The company has engaged JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America as joint lead arrangers and joint bookrunners with JP Morgan serving as administrative agent.

Five-week sales reports for Wal-Mart, Costco and Sears
>> Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (NYSE: WMT) net sales for the five-week period ending Dec. 31, 2004, was $38.4 billion, up 13.4 percent from last year's $33.9 billion. Net sales for the Wal-Mart division was $26.2 billion vs. 2003's $23.3 billion. For the January four-week period, Wal-Mart forecasts U.S. comparative sales to be up in the 2 percent to 4 percent range.
>> Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) reported net sales of $5.77 billion for the five weeks ended Jan. 2, 2005, an increase of 11 percent from $5.20 billion in the same five-week period of the prior fiscal year. Same-store sales were 8 percent in the United States.
>> Domestic sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 1, 2005, for Sears, Roebuck & Co. (NYSE: S) fell 2.4 percent to $3.84 billion. Same-store sales were down 3 percent.

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