Fitness financials: Nautilus ratings downgraded as 2Q call nears, plus Everlast, Russell, Winmark/Play It Again, Reebok, Hibbett

Fitness financials: Nautilus status downgraded. Everlast Worldwide names president, COO. Russell lowers Q2 expectations. Winmark reports lower quarterly net income. Reebok shares drop after analysts downgrade. Hibbett hires new president.

Nautilus status downgraded
On July 18, research firm Merriman Curhan Ford downgraded Nautilus (NYSE: NLS) from "buy" to "neutral." Nautilus' second-quarter earnings conference call is scheduled for July 27 at 5 p.m. EST.

Everlast Worldwide names president, COO
Everlast Worldwide has named Seth Horowitz as president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. Horowitz, who served as executive vice president of the company since 2001, has also been named to the board of directors. He assumes the president title from his father, George Q. Horowitz, who will continue in the roles of chairman and CEO.

Russell lowers Q2 expectations
Russell Corp. (NYSE: RML) revised its expectations for the second quarter saying fully diluted earnings per share will be between $0.12 and $0.14 due to several short-term operational issues and lower-than-expected costs cuts. Analysts have been estimating $0.21 per share.

Russell added that it does not anticipate being able to overcome the quarter's earnings shortfall for the full year.

Companywide sales for the quarter were close to the plan and increased 18 percent to more than $342 million. The sales gains were driven by acquisitions, which had no material impact on earnings per share for the quarter. Excluding the acquisitions made in 2004, the sporting goods segment experienced sales declines of approximately 13 percent versus the previous year. The activewear segment experienced a more than 10 percent sales increase for the quarter.

"We believe these results are primarily due to short-term execution problems, which we have already begun to address," Chairman and CEO Jack Ward said in a statement. "We intend to re-examine every aspect of our businesses for further growth opportunities and cost reductions."

Russell will announce its full second-quarter results on July 28.

Winmark reports lower quarterly net income
Winmark Corp. (Nasdaq: WINA), operator of the Play It Again Sports franchises, said its net income for the quarter ended June 25, 2005, was $542,600, or $0.08 per share diluted. Last year, its net income was $726,300, or $0.11 per share diluted. For the six months ended June 25, 2005, net income was $1,242,500, or $0.19 per share diluted, compared to net income of $2,086,600, or $.32 per share diluted, for the same period last year.

Winmark said earnings for the quarter were lower, compared to last year, due to the continued infrastructure expense of the leasing business. Its franchise business had a good quarter with a modest increase in the store level performance of franchisees, it added. Winmark provides financial services and develops franchises for retail stores that buy, sell, trade and consign used and new merchandise. As of June 25, it had 797 franchise and retail stores in operation -- 404 of which were Play It Again Sports, many of which sell good amounts of new fitness equipment.

Reebok shares drop 2.7 percent after analyst downgrade
Susquehanna Financial downgraded Reebok International from net positive to net neutral, causing the shoemaker's shares to fall $1.17, or 2.7 percent, to $42.02. One analyst said the company's second-quarter results will reflect weak domestic demand for Reebok's classic footwear brands, and a slowdown in branded apparel sales. The analyst cut Reebok's second-quarter earnings estimate to $0.57 cents a share from $0.59 cents and its revenue forecast to $861.8 million from $871.8 million.

Hibbett hires retail veteran as president
Brian Priddy has been named president of Hibbett Sporting Goods (NasdaqNM: HIBB). Priddy has 25 years of experience in the retail industry and will start Aug. 1. Priddy was most recently executive vice president of operations at Bombay Company since 2001, having served as chairman of the interim executive committee for 11 months during that time period. Prior to that, he held various leadership positions with Sears, Roebuck & Co., Lillie Rubin, Maison Blanche and Foley's. His background is extensive in store operations and Hibbett said it is hoping to meet its goal of 1,000 stores with him. Mickey Newsome is to remain chairman and CEO of the company.

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