The Beary End

Investors won't have Vermont Teddy Bear (Nasdaq: BEAR  ) to kick around anymore. Last night the company announced that it would be going private at $6.50 a share through an acquisition by a Boston-based private equity firm.

The company's relationship with the market hasn't been as warm and cuddly as its signature teddy bears. Since peaking in 1994, shares of the gift specialist have meandered in the single digits. That's a shame because if the company was anything, it was gutsy. From having Howard Stern pitching its Pajama Gram lingerie gifts on the radio to rolling out the controversial straitjacket-wearing Crazy-For-You Bear that angered mental health groups, Vermont Teddy Bear certainly knew how to kick up a fuss.

Yet brazen personality will only get you so far. The company needed consistent financial performance and never got it. Its last shareholder heartbreak came on Valentine's Day, when the stock fell by 15% after announcing that earnings fell from $0.07 per share to $0.04 per share despite a 20% spike in sales.

Vermont Teddy Bear can't really blame the sector. A company like Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW  ) proves that teddy bears are still hot. Just last month, that retailer posted a 33% spike in earnings per share on a 24% uptick in sales. Vermont can't fault the gift delivery business either. Rule Breakers recommendation Provide Commerce (Nasdaq: PRVD  ) grew its pro forma profits by 59% as revenues for the company behind ProFlowers.com grew by 40%. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Nasdaq: RMCF  ) has even seen its stock more than double over the past year.

Vermont Teddy Bear was able to create a brand for something as common as plush animal gifts. While it also branched out into more traditional special occasion presents like flowers and gourmet eats, its flagship bears still carried the company.

I feel silly talking about Vermont Teddy Bear in the past tense. After all, it may very well get dolled up and go public again in a couple of years. While I hope the company finds its ticker symbol waiting for it if that day arrives, I also hope it returns having mastered the art of sustainable growth. That would be the best gift of all.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wants to know if there is any state cooler than Vermont, which has given us teddy bears and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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