Hours after American golfer Dustin Johnson clinched a controversial victory in the US Open, Acushnet Holdings, the golfing equipment company known for brands such as Titleist and Footjoy, filed for an initial public offering in the United States.
Acushnet filed an S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday morning. It said it is listing so its current shareholders, including athletic wear company Fila Korea, can sell down their holdings. Acushnet will not receive any proceeds from the share sale.
The Fairhaven, Mass.-based company intends to use the ticker symbol "GOLF." The company said it plans to raise $100 million, a likely placeholder amount.
While the U.S. is the largest golf marker in the world -- comprising 41% of the market in the $8.7 billion industry -- the industry has struggled in recent years due to declining participation in the sport as newcomers fail to become regular golfers.
According to the filing, Acushnet has seen its net sales drop to $1.5 billion in 2015 from $1.54 billion in 2014. Meanwhile the company has seen Ebitda grow 14% in the same period to $214.7 million in 2015 from $138.4 million in 2014. The company did not provided a potential valuation, though, in September, Bloomberg reported Acushnet could be valued at $2 billion.
The report also shows that the number of rounds of golf played in the U.S. dropped steadily between 2006 and 2014, indicating that the sport is declining in popularity. In 2014, there were only 24.7 million golfers in the U.S., the fewest since 1996.
Jeffries remains bullish on Callaway, maintaining its "buy" rating on Tuesday following a meeting with the company at Jeffries' 2016 Global Consumer Conference.
"[Callaway] is posed to shift into offensive mode, and should continue to capture market share, while realizing the benefits of operational improvements," wrote analyst Randal Konik. He was particularly optimistic that Callaway's 15% stake in TopGolf, a growing golf and entertainment business, has "unrealized value." The strategic investment in the company, which drew 8 million visitors last year, is potentially another way that companies can thrive in a struggling industry.
Companies that sell golf equipment have been combating the struggling sport's dead weight for years now.
In 2014, following lackluster sales, Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack expressed little hope that golf would every be profitable in the retail market. "Golf continues to be our most challenging business," Stack told analysts on a call. "Golf from a participation standpoint, and how it translates to retail, is in a structural decline. And we don't see that changing."
Even Acushnet acknowledged the challenge of the decline in golf's overall participation. While it noted in the S-1 that the number of U.S. golfers age 6 to 17 in the United States has grown from about 2.5 million to 3.0 million golfers from 2010 to 2015, it also listed "a reduction in the number of rounds of golf played or in the number of golf participants" as a risk factor as the company moves forward with its IPO. Other risk factors include demographic factors (most golfers are currently of Generation X or baby boomers) and unfavorable weather conditions as potential hindrances, it said.
The latter is nothing to scoff at, either. Rain and cold weather were factors the crash in stock price of Callaway Golf (ELY - Get Report) , which sells golf clubs, balls, apparel, footwear and accessories. Callaway saw prices fall from $32.31 in February of that year to $9.81 that August, a drop it has never fully recovered from.
Companies in the golf business have had very mixed performance year over year. Callaway is trading up at $10.31 Monday morning, up slightly from $9.20 a year ago. However, the 1990s saw Callaway trading above $30 a share.
ClubCorp Holdings (MYCC) which owns golf and country clubs, business clubs, sports clubs is selling at $13.06, down from $23.80 at this time last year.
Deerfield, Ill.-based home fixtures and hardware company, Fortune Brands Home & Security (FBHS - Get Report) sold Acushnet for $1.23 billion in 2011 to a consortium led by Fila Korea Ltd., which owns Fila athletic apparel, and South Korean private equity firm Mirae Asset Private Equity. The consortium also included South Korea-based private equity firm Woori-Blackstone Korea Opportunity Private Equity Fund (a joint general partnership between Blackstone Group (BX - Get Report) and Woori Private Equity) and Neoplux Co., another PE firm based Seoul.
The company, who has sponsorship deals with its Titleist brand with professional golfers Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, among others, got its start in 1910 as golf ball manufacturer, but has been expanding to include other golfing apparel and equipment, such as gloves, putters and clubs, wedges, putters and gloves.
The IPO is being underwritten by J.P. Morgan Securities, Morgan Stanley, Nomura Securities International, UBS Securities, Credit Suisse Securities, Daiwa Capital Markets America, Deutsche Bank Securities, Jefferies and Wells Fargo Securities.
Roxanne F. Reardon and Jin Hyuk Park of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Kirk A. Davenport II and Nathan Ajiashvili at Latham & Watkins LLP are serving as legal counsel for the company.
A spokesperson for Acushnet declined to comment.