Fitness financials: Bally closes on $284 million credit line, plus NRF survey gauges holiday spending, Stride Rite, Amer Sports, Winmark/Play It Again

Fitness financials: Bally closes on $284 million credit line. NRF survey gauges holiday spending, specialty still high on list. Stride Rite names two new VPs at Saucony. Amer Sports exercises 2002 warrants. Winmark Q3 profit down on higher costs.

Bally closes on $284 million credit line
Bally Total Fitness (NYSE: BFT) reported that it closed on a $284 million line of credit in an effort to improve the company's financial footing. The amount of credit is $4 million higher than the company had previously announced. Bally said it plans to use the financing to fund capital expenditures and for additional liquidity.

Bally's also said it reached an agreement with an undisclosed party to sell and then lease back four of its clubs. The company expects proceeds of about $10 million and will use the money for added liquidity.

Bally's Interim Chairman Don Kornstein said the two arrangements are designed to improve Bally's financial position.

The senior credit facility was arranged by J.P. Morgan Securities and agented by JPMorgan Chase Bank. Morgan Stanley Senior Funding acted as syndication agent, with Canyon Capital Advisors and Goldman Sachs Credit Partners participating in the credit facility.

NRF survey gauges holiday spending, specialty still high on list
The National Retail Federation's 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average consumer plans to spend $791.10 this holiday season, up from $738.11 last year. Additionally, shoppers will take advantage of sales and discounts during the holiday season to spend an additional $99.22 on themselves.

Consumers this year will shop at a variety of destinations for holiday gifts. While discount stores continue to be the most popular holiday shopping location attracting 70.3 percent of people, 48.4 percent said they will also be shopping at specialty stores. And, 47.1 percent of consumers said they plan to shop online this year, up from 36 percent three years ago.

Among the survey's findings:
>> Most holiday budgets will be allocated to gifts, with the average person spending $451.34 on family, $85.60 on friends, $22.40 on coworkers, and $44.52 on other people like clergy, teachers and babysitters.
>> 40.4 percent of consumers will begin their holiday shopping this year before Halloween.
>> 52.8 percent of consumers would like to receive a gift card this year.
>> After low prices (14.2 percent) and sales (36.5 percent), more shoppers this year said that factors like customer service (4.4 percent), product quality (12.4 percent), and merchandise selection (24.3 percent) are the most important when determining where to shop.

NRF continues to forecast that holiday sales will increase 5.0 percent this year to $457.4 billion.

The NRF 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey, which polled 7,623 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from Oct. 4-11.

Stride Rite names two new VPs at Saucony
Saucony, a subsidiary of Stride Rite (NYSE: SRR), has appointed two new vice presidents to the brand's division. Susan Dooley was named vice president of marketing, while Sharon Barbano was promoted to vice president of public relations.

Both Dooley and Barbano will also oversee marketing and public relations, respectively, for technical apparel brand Hind, also a subsidiary of Stride Rite. Dooley will oversee the strategy and execution for all brand-related marketing programs for Saucony and Hind.

Amer Sports exercises 2002 warrants
Amer Sports said that 96,750 its shares have been subscribed for as a result of an exercise of its 2002 warrants. The corresponding increase in the company's share capital was Euro 387,000 (USD $486,246) and registered on Oct. 19. As a result of this increase, Amer's share capital now totals about Euro 286.5 million (USD $360 million) and the total number of shares in issue is 71,626,260. The new shares were listed on the Helsinki Exchanges on Oct. 20. The subscription period of Amer Sport's 2002 warrant scheme will end on Dec. 31, 2007.

Winmark Q3 profit down on higher costs
Third-quarter profit for Winmark (Nasdaq: WINA), which oversees the Play It Again franchises, said declined 10 percent as higher revenue failed to offset increased costs.

Net income fell to $838,200, or $0.14 per share, from $926,100, or $0.14 per share, in the year-ago period. This year's third quarter had fewer outstanding shares than that of the prior-year period.

The company's leasing costs surged to $84,500 versus $600 last year. Selling, general and administrative costs climbed 17 percent to $4.2 million from $3.6 million. Quarterly revenue increased 14 percent to $7.2 million compared with $6.3 million during the same period last year.

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Outdoor financials: VF's Q3 revenues and income set new records, plus NRF survey gauges holiday spending, analyst initiates coverage on five industry footwear makers, Stride Rite, Outdoor Channel, Liz Claiborne, Amer Sports

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