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Amid COVID restrictions, some are making the most of what high school sports they have


“I will do anything it takes to get my girls back on the field,” she says.

Welcome to the 2020 fall high school sports season, the weirdest ever, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautions necessary to keep student-athletes safe.

As high school sports teams return to the playing fields this week for the first time since March, an attitude of gratitude has emerged among student-athletes and coaches.

Although Concord-Carlisle field hockey player Hadley Swenson has to wear a mask, and will be playing seven-on-seven instead of 11-on-11, in an abbreviated season, she is happy.

“We’re just so grateful to be out here, even if it’s five games,” she says. “It’s weird to be on a [computer] screen all day. Now we get to be with all of our friends, even though it’s new and it’s different, it will still be fun, no matter what happens.”

The MIAA plans to hold four abbreviated sports seasons for the 2020-21 academic year. Fall I season, which runs from Sept. 18-Nov. 20, includes soccer, gymnastics, cross-country, field hockey, girls' volleyball, swimming/diving, and golf.

Masks are mandatory, with exceptions. Swimmers, gymnasts, and cross-country runners can remove their masks moments before they compete.

At Concord-Carlisle, portable bathrooms have been trucked in, and pods have been placed in parking lots for the safe storage of equipment.

But it definitely won’t be sports as usual this fall. There will be no football until February, no traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games, no cheerleaders, and very few spectators.

Communities are praying that they don’t wind up on the COVID-19 high-risk red zone list, which would result in the postponement of all sports until the Fall II season begins in February. Worcester and 14 other communities have already had to abruptly halt or at least pause their sports seasons.

According to the MIAA, there will be no championships, at least for the Fall I season. In some cases, coaches will have to limit who gets to travel to away games because of space restrictions on buses.

Here at Concord-Carlisle, Siri Bjerke, a cross-country junior, is getting her feet taped in a makeshift medical tent before track practice. She says she’s gotten used to wearing a mask.

“It’s kind of weird, but now it just seems kind of normal,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to run with people that I don’t see at school.”

The boys' soccer team has to hold tryouts at nearby Emerson Park because of a lack of available fields at the high school due to spacing regulations.

The players place their backpacks 6 feet apart and all carry their own water bottles, many labeled with their names.

But the fall air is clean and crisp, the sun is still warm, and good vibes prevail out on the field. The smiles may be hidden by masks but they are broad enough that laugh lines show around the eyes.

The new soccer rules will take some getting used to, a random tour of area high schools revealed.

Dan Mongo, the Quincy High soccer coach, gathered his team in a socially distant way in the stands at Memorial Stadium and recited the new rules: No intentional heading of the ball, no slide tackling, no shoulder-to-shoulder contact, no throw-ins, no defensive walls, all players on restarts must be 6 feet apart, and corner kicks will now be indirect kicks.

“I could tell that the players were anxious to get started and see what this season is going to look like with the modifications,” says Mongo, “but more than anxious, I could tell they were eager to get to work.”

At Marshfield High, soccer coach Paul Turner feels the same way. There is no whining from his players. The beautiful game still looks good even with masks.

“They went out on the field and just played with smiles on their faces and played with energy," says Turner. "And you know what? That’s all we can hope for right now.”

Stan Grossfeld can be reached at stanley.grossfeld@globe.com.


Source: Amid COVID restrictions, some are making the most of what high school sports they have

Academy Sports And Outdoors Finalizes $250 Million IPO Plan


Quick Take

Academy Sports and Outdoors (ASO) has filed to raise $250 million in an IPO of its common stock, according to an S-1 registration statement.

The firm sells sporting goods and outdoor recreation products primarily in the southern United States.

ASO’s IPO valuation appears reasonable, the firm is weathering the Covid-19 pandemic quite well, is a dominant retailer in the Southern U.S. and is producing enviable profits and cash flow, so is worth consideration.

Company & Technology

Katy, Texas-based Academy was founded in 1938 as a family business to sell outdoors goods and sporting products to consumers in the U.S.

Management is headed by president, CEO and Chairman Ken Hicks, who has been with the firm since May 2017 and was previously president and CEO of Foot Locker and has held senior roles in several consumer goods retailers.

Below is a brief overview video of about canoeing and hiking in N. Carolina:

Source: Academy Sports and Outdoors

ASO currently has 259 stores in 16 contiguous states in the Southern region of the U.S.Its retail locations range from 40,000 to 130,000 square feet in size, with an average size of 70,000 square feet. Stores are not located in malls.

Notably, the firm's stores have remained open during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Academy also operates three distribution centers and also sells online via its e-commerce platform, which contributed 11% of the company's sales in the first half of 2020.

Academy has received at least $1.1 billion from investors including private equity firm KKR

Customer Acquisition

The company markets its stores via offline and online media as well as local events specific to each area, including supporting local sports teams, programs and civic organizations.

The firm also has invested in its e-commerce capabilities as part of an omnichannel approach.

Selling, G&A expenses as a percentage of total revenue have been dropped as revenues have increased, as the figures below indicate:

Selling, G&A

Expenses vs. Revenue

Period

Percentage

26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

21.8%

FYE February 1, 2020

25.9%

FYE February 2, 2019

25.9%

Source: Company registration statement

The Selling, G&A efficiency rate, defined as how many dollars of additional new revenue are generated by each dollar of Selling, G&A spend, rose to 0.7x in the most recent reporting period, as shown in the table below:

Selling, G&A

Efficiency Rate

Period

Multiple

26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

0.7

FYE February 1, 2020

0.0

Source: Company registration statement

Market & Competition

According to a 2016 market research report by Grand View Research, the global sports equipment marked was an estimated $66 billion in 2016.

The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5% from 2017 to 2025.

The main drivers for this expected growth are a rising awareness of the health benefits from consistent physical activity and improvements in sports equipment materials and technologies.

Also, below is a chart showing the historical and future forecast growth trajectories of various subcategories in the North American sports equipment market:image

Major competitive or other industry participants include:

  • Walmart (WMT)

  • Target (TGT)

  • Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS)

  • Camping World (CWH)

  • Bass Pro Shops

  • Big 5 Sporting Goods (Slight geo overlap)

  • Numerous smaller retailers

  • Online retailers

  • Manufacturer direct sellers

  • Financial Performance

    Academy’s recent financial results can be summarized as follows:

  • Growing topline revenue

  • Increased gross profit, but uneven gross margin

  • Growing operating profit, operating margin and net income

  • Sharply increased cash flow from operations

  • Below are relevant financial results derived from the firm’s registration statement:

    Total Revenue

    Period

    Total Revenue

    % Variance vs. Prior

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    $ 2,742,721,000

    18.5%

    FYE February 1, 2020

    $ 4,829,897,000

    1.0%

    FYE February 2, 2019

    $ 4,783,893,000

    Gross Profit (Loss)

    Period

    Gross Profit (Loss)

    % Variance vs. Prior

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    $ 794,446,000

    13.8%

    FYE February 1, 2020

    $ 1,431,154,000

    4.6%

    FYE February 2, 2019

    $ 1,367,952,000

    Gross Margin

    Period

    Gross Margin

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    28.97%

    FYE February 1, 2020

    29.63%

    FYE February 2, 2019

    28.59%

    Operating Profit (Loss)

    Period

    Operating Profit (Loss)

    Operating Margin

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    $ 197,810,000

    7.2%

    FYE February 1, 2020

    $ 179,421,000

    3.7%

    FYE February 2, 2019

    $ 128,950,000

    2.7%

    Net Income (Loss)

    Period

    Net Income (Loss)

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    $ 157,656,000

    FYE February 1, 2020

    $ 120,043,000

    FYE February 2, 2019

    $ 21,442,000

    Cash Flow From Operations

    Period

    Cash Flow From Operations

    26 Weeks Ended Aug. 1, 2020

    $ 773,621,000

    FYE February 1, 2020

    $ 263,669,000

    FYE February 2, 2019

    $ 198,481,000

    (Glossary Of Terms)

    Source: Company registration statement

    As of August 1, 2020, Academy had $884 million in cash and $3.7 billion in total liabilities.

    Free cash flow during the twelve months ended August 1, 2020, was $884.5 million.

    IPO Details

    Academy intends to raise $250 million in gross proceeds from an IPO of 15.625 million shares of its common stock, offered at a midpoint price of $16.00 per share.

    Assuming a successful IPO, the company’s enterprise value at IPO would approximate $2.0 billion, excluding the effects of underwriter over-allotment options.

    Excluding effects of underwriter options and private placement shares or restricted stock, if any, the float to outstanding shares ratio will be approximately 17.73%.

    Management says it will use the net proceeds from the IPO as follows:

    We intend to use these proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include the repayment of certain indebtedness.

    Management’s presentation of the company roadshow is available here.

    Listed bookrunners of the IPO are Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, KKR, BofA Securities, Evercore ISI, Guggenheim Securities, UBS Investment Bank, Wells Fargo Securities, Stephens, Capital One Securities, Loop Capital Markets, CastleOak Securities, Blaylock Van, Cabrera Capital Markets, Ramirez & Co. and R. Seelaus & Co.

    Commentary

    Academy is seeking public capital market funding most likely to pay down debt.

    The company is private equity firm-owned, so KKR probably received large ‘dividends’ and the company loaded up on debt ($1.4 billion) in the process.

    Otherwise, the firm’s operating financials have been impressive in the most recent six-month period, especially since it has been open for business during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    However, prior to that, revenue growth was an unimpressive 1.0%, although the company sharply grew its net profits and operating cash flow.

    Selling, G&A expenses as a percentage of total revenue have dropped; its Selling, G&A efficiency rate has risen sharply. Again, both of these figures are for the most recent six-month period, which may be an anomaly.

    The market opportunity for selling sporting and outdoors goods is expected to grow at a moderate rate of growth, but there are plenty of well capitalized competitors in the space.

    As to valuation, compared to Dick’s Sporting Goods, the IPO is priced well below DKS’ figures for major metrics, with only slightly less revenue growth and somewhat lower earnings per share.

    The IPO valuation appears reasonable, ASO is weathering the Covid-19 pandemic quite well, is a dominant retailer in the Southern U.S. and is producing enviable profits and cash flow, so is worth a close look.

    Expected IPO Pricing Date: October 1, 2020

    image Gain Insight and actionable information on U.S. IPOs with IPO Edge research. Members of IPO Edge get the latest IPO research, news, and industry analysis. Get started with a free trial! Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

    Source: Academy Sports And Outdoors Finalizes $250 Million IPO Plan

    The evolution of sports equipment


    Sports have changed significantly as time has gone on, and sports equipment has also evolved as modern technology continues to grow in sophistication. From the simple baseball to goalie pads to a set of golf clubs, the tools of the trade have come a long way since sports’ humble beginnings.


    Source: The evolution of sports equipment



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