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Bauer’s bright outlook tempered by declining participation in hockey

Kevin Davis, president and CEO, Bauer Performance Sports

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

NHL hockey is back in full swing and import tariffs in Canada on hockey equipment have been reduced, which is positive news for a company that specializes in skates, equipment and jerseys for players of the much-loved game.

Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. senior executives will likely touch upon any positive impact those two developments are expected to have after the company's third-quarter results are released Wednesday.

Certainly, Bauer can use all the good news it can get.

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As a major hockey equipment maker, it's in a sport facing declining participation rates in North America.

Chief executive officer Kevin Davis needs to demonstrate he has the right game plan to counter the flat-growth trends in hockey, to execute on the company's entries into new niches and to diversify into other sports.

Analysts will want details on how the strategy to build a strong apparel business is progressing after last year's purchase of Toronto-based Inaria International.

Also of interest is how the diversification into lacrosse is doing.

Martin Landry of GMP Securities said in a recent research note that feedback from retailers indicates Bauer has a strong pipeline of new products on tap, but that the sluggish economy and some retail snags could make for a soft patch for the company.

One product with high sales potential is the Bauer TUUK Light Speed edge holder with retractable blade system.

The potential to sell an extra pair of blades has retailers excited, said Mr. Landry.

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Bauer's team apparel business also appears to be doing well, he said.

Among other factors in the company's favour are rival Adidas Group's recent decision to end the sale process for its Reebok-CCM division.

"In our view this is a positive for Bauer as we were concerned that a new owner in the industry could have shaken things up and been more aggressive to change the negative market share trend at Reebok-CCM," said Mr. Landry.

Mark Petrie of CIBC World Markets said in a Q3 preview that the quarter is a meaningful one for the lacrosse business and should provide a good indication of growth rates in the segment following Bauer's acquisition of Cascade Helmets Holdings Inc., a New York designer and manufacturer of lacrosse helmets and eye-wear.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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