Ailing sporting goods retailer Sports Authority decided over the weekend against reorganization and instead will opt to liquidate its 450 stores in 27 states. The company, saddled with more than $1.1 billion in debt, initially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early March and planned to close about 143 stores.
Sports Authority hasn't publicly announced a closing date.
The eventual disappearance of Sports Authority, likely before the holiday season, will leave Dick's Sporting Goods in the enviable position of being the dominant sporting goods retailer in the country. As a result, it could be poised to ring up some serious sales and profit at its more than 640 stores.
"We view the [Sports Authority] news as incremental good news for Dick's, as the likely biggest recipient of the approximately $2.6 billion of sales that will now be up for grab," said Deutsche Bank analyst Mike Baker in a May 2 note to clients. According to Baker's math, if Dick's picks up 20% of Sports Authority's sales it would equate to $520 million in new business, which would be the equivalent to a 7% boost to same-store sales over the next year. The analyst estimated the sales jolt would add roughly $136 million in operating profits in a year's time, or 75 cents a share.
The earnings lift would likely light a badly needed flame under Dick's Sporting Goods stock, which has fallen about 16% in the past year vs. a 2% decline for the S&P 500.
Although Dick's sales could be hit in the near-term as Sports Authority aggressively discounts inventory to raise cash for creditors, the exit of a main competitor from the market is a long-term win.
"The long-term financial impact is compelling in our view, and the market should likely view it as so -- we also believe Dick's will likely acquire some of the The Sports Authority locations, making it easier for them to pick up market share," said Baker, who reiterated his buy rating on the stock.