Outdoor financials: Thule expands portfolio with Brink, Valley and SportRack, plus Dick's, Implus Footcare acquires Yaktrax, Sara Lee

Outdoor financials: Thule expands portfolio with Brink, Valley and SportRack. Dick's Q1 store sales up 6.5 percent. Implus Footcare acquires Yaktrax. Sara Lee amends stockholder-rights plan.

Thule expands portfolio with Brink, Valley and SportRack
Thule will be acquiring Brink International BV, Valley Industries and SportRack Accessories -- all subsidiaries of U.S.-based Advanced Accessory Systems (AAS) -- pending regulatory approvals and other unstated factors.

The companies have annual sales of SEK 1.83 billion (Euro 197 million or USD $251.8 million), and they employ 1,400 co-workers at seven European and three North American sites. With the acquisition, Thule is reporting it will nearly double in size in terms of annual revenue.

Brink and Valley are leading European and North American players for what are referred to as towbars in Europe, otherwise known as trailer hitches here in North America. Valley Industries has factories in Madison Heights, Mich., and Lodi, Calif. Brink's factories are in Europe. SportRack Accessories offers load carriers and rooftop boxes and has a factory in Quebec.

Fred Clark, president of Thule USA, told SNEWS® that Thule plans to form a separate division for the trailer hitch acquisitions. The hitch market is estimated to be approximately $500 million in North America, with Thule's new Valley acquisition controlling approximately $100 million of that for a No. 2 position.

SportRack Accessories will be sold under the SportRack name and become part of Thule Inc., selling primarily to the value-priced market. With the addition of the rooftop boxes from SportRack, Thule estimates it now commands nearly 85 percent of the North American rooftop box market.

In addition, Thule trailers will now operate as a separate division, Clark tells us. As for future acquisitions, Clark added that the company will now focus on streamlining and integrating its many recent acquisitions globally. The goal for Thule was to be at SEK 3 billion for 2005, at SEK 6 billion in 2007, and SEK 9 billion in 2009.Clark told SNEWS® the company is a year ahead of schedule.

Thule's product portfolio comprises load carriers for cars such as rooftop boxes, roof rails and bike carriers. Additionally, the company offers snow chains, trailers, and accessories for motor homes and caravans. Thule has 2,300 employees at over 20 production and sales locations in all major car markets in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Sales in 2005 amounted to SEK 3.2 billion (approx Euro 340 million or USD $434.5 million). Thule AB is based in Malmö, Sweden, and majority owned by UK-based private equity firm Candover (www.candover.com). More information is available at www.thule.com.

SportRack Inc. (roof racks/rails for OEM delivery to the automotive industry) will be retained by current owner Castle Harlan, the U.S.-based private equity firm that has owned AAS since 2003. More information is available at www.castleharlan.com

Dick's Q1 store sales up 6.5 percent
Dick's Sporting Goods' (NYSE: DKS) first-quarter profit was in the black as revenue increased by 13 percent and same-store sales grew.

Quarterly profit was $11.4 million, or $0.21 per share, compared with a loss of $7.3 million, or $0.15 per share, during the first quarter last year. Revenue grew 16 percent to $645.5 million from $570.8 million. Results for the 2005 quarter included a $32.5 million merger integration charge. Analysts, on average, predicted a profit of $0.17 on revenue of $636.9 million.

Same-store sales grew 6.5 percent on increases in the company's merchandise categories. The former Galyan's stores, which Dick's acquired in 2004, will be included in the comparable store base beginning in the second quarter of 2006.

Dick's said it expects to post a second quarter profit of $0.43 to $0.44 per share, including a stock-option expense of $0.07 per share. It expects same-store sales to increase 3 percent to 4 percent for the quarter.

The company raised its 2006 guidance to earnings of $1.81 to $1.85 per share, compared with previous guidance of between $1.77 to $1.81 per share, including a stock option expense of $0.27. It expects same-store sales to increase 3 percent during the year.

Also, the retailer said it plans to open five new stores in the second quarter and 40 new stores during the year.

Implus Footcare acquires Yaktrax
Implus Footcare has acquired Yaktrax, a brand that specializes in the manufacture and sale of snow and ice traction devices for shoes. Terms of the deal were not announced. Seth Richards, Implus CEO, indicated in the press release announcing the acquisition that the company plans on rapidly expanding sales for Yaktrax through Implus' global sales, distribution and marketing platform.

Total Implus revenue with the new brand is projected to approach $70 million for fiscal year 2006. Steve Couder, national sales manager for Yaktrax, will continue to lead sales for the new division. Yaktrax is sold throughout the United States and in 20 countries around the globe. For more information, go to www.Yaktrax.com or www.implus.com.

Implus Footcare is headquartered in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, and specializes in what the company terms "below the ankle" product categories including insoles, performance socks, shoe laces and shoe care. Implus' brands include Airplus, Sof Sole, Apara, Yaktrax and Sof Comfort and claims its products are distributed in over 50,000 retail outlets across North America and in 65 countries worldwide.

Sara Lee amends stockholder-rights plan
Sara Lee (NYSE: SLE), parent of Duofold, has moved up the expiration date of its stockholder-rights plan to Sept. 1, 2006, from May 25, 2008. The company said it also changed its corporate governance guidelines so the board of directors must obtain stockholder approval prior to adoption of a new stockholder-rights plan. But if a majority of independent directors believes adopting a new stockholder-rights plan is in the best interest of Sara Lee and its stockholders, they can act on their own to implement it. In this case, the board will submit a new plan to stockholders for ratification within a year. If it is not approved, it will be ended after the vote is certified.

For more information about these companies or their financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html


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