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Tiger Woods Barely Dents Nike Sales

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Believe or not, Tiger Woods' hiatus from professional golf did little to dent corporate sponsor Nike's (NKE) golf product sales, and may not make much difference on those figures when he returns to golf, according to a recent study.

The study, performed by SportsScanInfo, seems to indicate a disconnect between what shareholders of Tiger's corporate sponsors experienced after his fall from grace -- that is, a Tiger-induced shareholder value reduction in sponsor companies by 2.3%, or up to $12 billion, that was noted by a UC Davis study -- and what corporate sponsors like Nike actually experienced.

In fact, sales of Nike golf products were little changed in the 13 weeks between Tiger's car accident outside his Orlando, Florida home shortly after Thanksgiving Day and his televised public apology, when he revealed to the world that he had been cheating on his wife, according to SportsScanInfo data cited by Bloomberg.

"It's been a non-event for Nike," Matt Powell, one of the analysts who performed the study, told Bloomberg. According to Powell, consumers -- despite being barraged for months regarding Tiger's personal indiscretions, have been "relatively neutral" about his issues. Thus, according to Powell, Woods is unlikely to make much of a difference for Nike golf product sales upon his return to the sport. Woods says he will be returning to professional golf at the Masters tournament next month.

While corporate sponsors Accenture (ACN), AT&T (T) and PepsiCo's (PEP) Gatorade decided to terminate their relationship with Tiger after his personal life erupted in scandal, others, such as Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Nike (NKE), chose to stand firmly beside him. Powell says that Nike, which also stuck with NBA player Kobe Bryant when he was hit with sexual assault charges in 2003, will sometimes "reduce their exposure, but they have a tradition of sticking with their athletes," according to Bloomberg.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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