Editor’s Note: Welcome to a daily column breaking down the day’s biggest stories in sports finance. It comes to us via our friends at JohnWallStreet, publisher of a free e-mail newsletter (you can sign up here). It’s sports business with a financial spin. Howie Long-Short and Fan Marino will be providing their expert opinions on each story. They have slightly different areas of expertise. Fan Marino is a firm believer that the SEC is the premier football conference. Howie Long-Short knows it as the Securities & Exchange Commission. Fan Marino lives and dies with the college selection of 5 star , blue chip recruits. Howie Long-Short spends his days analyzing blue chip stocks. Howie Long-Short knows that Black Monday occurred on October 19th, 1987. Fan Marino swears it happens every January after Week 17. You get the point.
Golf Viewership Directly Correlated to Woods’ Performance, Equipment Sales +8% YoY
One can debate Tiger’s impact on equipment sales, but his impact on television viewership is undeniable. Tiger was in contention at 3 of the 4 majors this summer and final round viewership rose significantly for each; +14% YoY for The Masters (finished 32nd), +37% YoY for the British Open (finished 6th) and +69% YoY for the PGA Championship (finished 2nd) - when 8.5 million tuned in. The final round of the one major that Woods failed to make the cut for, June’s U.S. Open, posted the 3rd lowest television audience in tournament history.
Howie Long-Short: NPD Group reported that golf equipment sales rose +8% YoY (to $2.5 billion) for the 12-month period ending on June 30th. It was a welcomed return to black for an industry that saw notable manufacturers (think: Nike, Adidas) and retailers (see: Sports Authority, Golfsmith) exit the business over the last several years. Sales shouldn’t slow down anytime soon; 10,000 baby boomers retire each day and junior sales rose +31% YoY.
Callaway Golf (ELY) and Acushnet (GOLF) have both benefited from rising equipment sales.ELY’s Rogue line of woods/irons and new Chrome Soft balls drove a +30% YoY sales increase during the most recent quarter and company shares are up +72% over the trailing 12 months. ELY hit a 17-year high earlier this month ($23.60), closing on Friday at $22.52. As for GOLF, the company grew Q2 sales 11.7% YoY (on a consolidated basis) on the back of increased Titleist clubs (718 Irons, Vokey SM7 Wedges) and Titleist golf ball sales. GOLF shares are up +60% over the last 12 months; they’ll open at $27.00 on Monday 8.20.
It’s worth mentioning that while women’s equipment sales rose +7% YoY, TaylorMade has made no effort to land those golfers; at least not via sponsorship on the LPGA Tour. Golfweek reported that back in June the company told the LPGA Tour’s top golfer Inbee Park that only players who use their drivers are eligible for free products (she had asked for a few replacement clubs); an unusual response as it’s considered “professional courtesy” for the top players within the game. The company also hasn’t sent a rep out to a LPGA event yet this season and the tour’s equipment trailer no longer “carries a TaylorMade sign.”
Fan Marino: NBCUniversal Group has signed a 3-year pact to carry the PGA Tour’s live-streaming subscription service. Beginning in ’19, NBC Sports Gold subscribers will receive more than 360 hours of exclusive programming including Thursday and Friday morning coverage from all 28 tour events. Pricing has yet to be set, but expect it to be in-line with its other offerings ($49.99-$69.99).