Tiger Woods Scandal Is Over, Investors Say

The Tiger Woods comeback is officially underway, now that Woods has completed his return to golf at The Masters -- and readers of TheStreet, according to a recent poll, appear more than willing to move on.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Tiger Woods comeback is, in a way, official, now that the world's No. 1 golfer has completed his return to the world stage at The Masters tournament this past weekend.

Still, analysts are varied in their opinion of how his return will impact the companies that are still sponsoring Woods. Some believe the impact will be minimal, arguing that while Tiger is good for network ratings, he does not actually contribute all that much to the sales of sponsors like

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

and

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

.

Others believe that Tiger's return to golf will ultimately lead to a satisfying payoff for those companies,

both of whom have supported Tiger

through the height of his sex scandal.

Given the divergence of opinion, we wanted to know what

TheStreet

has to say, and thus posed the question:

"Do you think the Tiger Woods scandal has finally played itself out?"

As if to further complicate matters, on Wednesday, April 7, a mere day before the opening round at Augusta National,

Nike released a new, roughly 30-second ad

, featuring a silent Tiger Woods, with the voice of his deceased father, Earl, posthumously reprimanding his son.

In the spot, as the camera pans closer to Tiger's face, Earl intones: "Tiger -- I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?" The ad was produced by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, and ABC News reported that the audio was "selectively spliced" from an interview in 2004, in which Earl was actually referring to his wife Kultida, and not Tiger.

When asked how he felt about the ad, Woods said he believed it was "very apropos," and that "any son who has lost a father, and who meant so much in their life, I think they would understand the spot." Tiger added that he felt his father, who had passed away in 2006 and had been his coach and mentor, was still helping him from beyond the grave.

Howe Burch, executive vice president and managing director at Baltimore-based ad agency TBC, said of the ad: "I think a lot of people would respond negatively to the fact Nike is exploiting this situation for commercial gain," but noted that it has generated a lot of publicity that could lead to significant returns for its golf business. Burch has run marketing units at

Reebok International

and

Fila

.

Nevertheless, the "stuff that happens outside the court" for the athletes it sponsors are "merely a sideshow for Nike," Burch says, arguing that Tiger's performance at the Masters is of utmost importance to the sports apparel and equipment maker.

In an email to

TheStreet

, Susquehanna Financial footwear and apparel analyst Christopher Svezia wrote that he thinks Tiger's return is overall "a positive for sports and broadcasting (ratings), but not a reason to buy Nike -- the company is too big to be driven by one athlete."

Svezia also said: "I don't believe Nike skipped a beat during the Tiger situation," given that Nike Golf is a $650 million business for Nike or about 3% of total company revenues. He noted that golf sales are improving year-on-year for the industry, even without Tiger in the game, citing newer technology and favorable comparisons as consumers "held off a year ago."

As for how

TheStreet

sees the scandal, our poll takers appear to be over it all. The majority, or 54.3%, of you who responded to our poll answered: "Yes, the Tiger scandal is played out, and has no bearing on whether I would invest in a company he endorses."

Another 22.3% agreed of poll respondents agreed with the statement: "Tiger is still a winner, and I would invest in any company he's associated with."

Meanwhile, 23.4% of you can't wipe his recent past from your memories, agreeing with the sentiment: "No -- Tiger is still a pariah, and I wouldn't invest in any company associated with him.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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>>Live Masters Blog, 4/11: The Action at Augusta

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>>What Do You Think About Tiger's New Nike Ad?

>>Is the Tiger Woods Scandal Played Out?

>>Tiger Woods Financial News

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