Dick's Stock Tumbles To Conservatives' Delight

Two weeks after Dick's Sporting Goods infuriated Second Amendment supporters when the sporting goods retailer announced it would end sales of assault rifles, its stock is plunging and conservatives will hardly shed a tear.

In early trading, shares of Dick’s tumbled as much as 7.3% to just above $30.19, its biggest intraday decline since mid-November, slashing in half the 13% gain YTD.

What is odd is that the drop in DKS stock has nothing to do with the halt in assault rifle sales, and everything to do with the general lackluster state of the US consumer, and specifically its second consecutive - and bigger than expected - sales decline.

Adjusted EPS were $1.22 in Q4, missing estimates of $1.24, but it was the big miss (and drop) in sales which hit $2.66 billion - well short of the $2.74 billion consensus - that have sent the stock into a tailspin. Meanwhile, the closely watched same-store sales fell 2%, more than the expected drop of 1.2%.  This was the second consecutive quarterly decline, prompting many shareholders to bail on the stock.

While the sales impact of Dick's decision to limit gun sales has yet to be felt - some conservative groups have already vowed to boycott the retalier in response - what is surprising is how quickly its business has foundered: as Bloomberg notes, "the future had appeared bright after Sports Authority collapsed in 2016, leaving Dick’s as the last national chain of its kind. But price cutting by competitors and tepid demand for items like basketball shoes have hammered the stock and put pressure on profit margins."

The company is also facing a threat from Nike, the largest sports brand in the world, which has been pushing more of its customers to its own stores and websites.

And, of course, the ubiquitous Amazon which is promoting its own private-label athletic gear.

Hoping to project confidence, CEO Edward Stack said “stronger product innovation from select key partners and the continued expansion of our private brands” will result in less pressure on profit margins this year. The company also plans to open 19 Dick’s stores this year, with eight of those coming in the current quarter.

However, even with the expansion, profit this year will be $2.80 to $3 a share, as same-store sales will range from flat to a low-single-digit decline.

But the biggest question, of course, is how much will DKS' sales suffer as a result of its hard-line stance on guns, which will certainly have an impact on demand after alienating a substantial portion of its customers. The effect on its business from this decision remains to be seen, so tune in in 3 months when the company announced earnings for the quarter ended April.