The video game retailer’s stock shot up again. This time, on the premise that the company is going all-in on e-commerce.
GameStop’s E-Commerce Pivot
GameStop/Design: Alex Brooks
Activist investor Ryan Cohen has been tapped to lead GameStop’s digital transformation, and the market loves it.
Cohen is a GameStop board member whose RC Ventures owns around 13% of the company’s stock. The Chewy co-founder will head up the video game retailer’s new Strategic Planning and Capital Committee.
The committee will be tasked with transforming GameStop “into a technology business” with a strong focus on e-commerce, per a company release. Analysts believe the announcement may have sparked the latest surge in the company’s stock price.
GameStop has successfully retained momentum from the January saga in which retail investors poured money into its stock to drive up the price before short sellers would be forced to purchase it back.
Though still below its $483 peak, the stock jumped another 41% on Monday to $194.50 when the new e-commerce plan became public.
The stock is over 11 times its price at the start of the year.
Cohen’s move to a leadership role in GameStop coincided with the Reddit-fueled surge; he gained board spots for himself and two allies in January.
Even before spearheading GameStop’s new strategic committee, Cohen was vocal about the company’s need to reimagine its business as an online-first destination and cut costs by moving away from in-person retail.
A major step in the process will be to bring on a new chief financial officer with experience in online retail. Outgoing CFO Jim Bell was forced out in February after disagreements over the direction of the company.
Echelon’s Connected Fitness Move
Echelon Fit/Design: Alex Brooks
Just months after its mishap with Amazon, Echelon announced that its Echelon Sport-s connected bike is available exclusively at Sam’s Club for $799 and includes a free six-month trial of its Sport membership.
Rivaling Peloton and SoulCycle, the Goldman Sachs-backed Echelon features 100 on-demand classes.
“Interest in indoor cycling is reaching new heights, but for many people, the reality of owning one still feels financially out of reach,” said president and CEO Lou Lentine.
This comes after the company released an ill-fated $499 “Prime Bike” in September made exclusively for Amazon.
“This bike is not an Amazon product or related to Amazon Prime,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC.
Lentine told Yahoo that the news was a shock for his company, as the bike had been live on Amazon’s site for a month before it was pulled, and there are documents indicating Amazon approved the Prime branding. The bike was renamed Echelon EX-15 and is back up on Amazon.
Peloton sued Echelon in 2019 with accusations of “cheap, copycat products,” citing patent and trademark infringement, which led Echelon to file its own petitions in an attempt to invalidate Peloton’s patents.
The setbacks aren’t slowing Echelon’s stride — revenue rose over 500% to exceed $100 million in 2020.
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MLB Loan Ratchets Up Tension
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
Major League Baseball is loaning out funds to teams to help cover expenses for the upcoming season, according to The Athletic, but what happens next is anyone’s guess.
The plan is that standard revenue sharing will be suspended, as it was last season, and the league will tap a credit line to provide half the funds that would normally flow from the big market teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, to the smaller market ones.
Next year, those heavy hitters are expected to both resume their roles as revenue distributors while also providing the bulk of the loan repayment to MLB. However, there is some flexibility on next year’s payments, and that’s where things get complicated.
“They can say whatever they want for politics, the understanding is it’ll never be paid back,” a big market team executive told The Athletic.
The commissioner’s office denied that notion, saying that, “The presumption is that the money will be paid back.”
While the NBA and NHL have taken similar steps, MLB’s move adds tension to an already-fraught political environment ahead of the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Teams have increasingly leveraged the salary-depressing mechanisms in baseball’s contract structure when players are in their first six years, while putting less money into free agency.
The tension between the players and teams was further heightened when now ex-Mariners President Kevin Mather openly admitted to manipulating player service time last month.
Sports Leagues Ready to Rebound from Pandemic
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
As we all know, the financial impact of the pandemic on sports and their governing bodies has been unprecedented.
The four major U.S. sports leagues and the NCAA, specifically, lost at least $14.1 billion to the pandemic, according to an estimate by Forbes.
The NFL saw 2020 revenue drop to $9.5 billion after reaching $14.5 billion in 2019.
NHL team values declined for the first time since 2001, with the average team’s worth falling 2% to $653 million.
The NBA and NCAA suffered near billion-dollar losses.
MLB took the biggest hit with 2020 revenue sinking to $4 billion after hitting $10.5 billion in 2019.
But with the NBA season at its midway point, the NHL and MLB underway, and the Olympics on the horizon, the tide is starting to turn.
“I think the vaccine season has changed everything,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Forbes. “I think we actually have full arenas sooner than anyone expected.”
As fans pour back into stadium seats, a growing number of venues across all sports will be offering cashless, ticketless, and touchless experiences to give fans peace of mind.
The NHL makes 70% of its revenue inside the arena, the highest percentage of the major U.S. leagues.
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Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, Justin Verlander, and FIFA’s top men’s player in 2020, Robert Lewandowski, sit on the athlete advisory board of Disruptive Acquisition Corp. I, a SPAC set to go public with a $250 million target. The blank-check company wants to acquire a company in health and wellness, entertainment, or tech.
Gaming stocks are cooling off after running hot at the start of the year. Both Ubisoft and Take-Two have fallen to around a quarter of their earlier peaks and gaming ETFs such as HERO and NERD have taken similar, if smaller tumbles. With vaccine distribution ramping up, some investors speculate that interest in gaming may have peaked.
The International Automobile Federation and Formula One extended their agreement with Pirelli, their exclusive tire supplier. The extension coincides with a one-year delay in implementing new technical regulations, namely a shift from 13- to 18-inch tires.
The New York Islanders are the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss on home ice this season. The franchise’s glory days included four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979-83, but they haven’t made it back to the Final since they lost in 1984. Get more stories like this in Sports Section — a free, daily newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Question Of The Day
Do you think GameStop's stock price will go over $300 again this year?