The dudes at skate clothing company Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK ) did some fancy shushing in acquiring French ski maker Rossignolfor $320 million, but investors seemed wary of the deal and caused an avalanche of selling, knocking down shares more than 10%. They remained relatively flat the next day, too.
While the acquisition has been rumored and expected for a while now, it seems Mr. Market feels that the price paid was steeper than the North Face of K2. Quiksilver will divide the purchase price into 70% cash and 30% stock in the company with a value of about $25.50 a share. It will also assume about $160 million in Rossignol debt. The ski maker's sales have been steadily declining over the past few years and totaled about $625 million last year. Profits, too, have been on the wane, and this acquisition will simply add additional foreign currency risk to Quiksilver. A question that looms large is whether a clothing company can effectively run a "hard goods" operation.
The deal was probably sweeter than it otherwise might have been because Quiksilver President Bernard Mariette is a longtime friend of the Rossignol Boix-Vives family. Board Chairman Laurent Boix-Vives owns 43% of Rossignol and controls 63% of the voting rights. When the deal is consummated, the Boix-Vives family will still maintain a 35% interest in subsidiary Cleveland Golf, and Laurent will assume a "key advisory" role at both Quiksilver and Cleveland Golf.
Even so, it appears that Quiksilver will have ultimately made a good purchase. The Rossignol brand is known worldwide, and though it has fallen in recent years behind sporting goods company K2 (NYSE: KTO ) , the branding opportunities are huge. Indeed, Quiksilver says one of the first steps it plans to make will be cranking out more clothes -- jackets, ski pants, and sweaters -- featuring the Rossignol name.
The Cleveland Golf brand is another attraction for Quiksilver. With sales at around $116 million, it can now extend its reach beyond what Rossignol was able to offer. But it will face stiff competition in the form of Cutter & Buck (Nasdaq: CBUK ) , a micro cap that has received watch-list attention from the Motley Fool Hidden Gems newsletter and sports trailing revenues of $130 million. Quiksilver will undoubtedly make further strides in Asia, where sales rose a ripsnorting 92% in the latest quarter. With more than 400 stores worldwide, half of its revenues come from overseas, with Europe accounting for a more modest increase of 25%. Overall, first-quarter sales increased 34%, to $330 million.
Acquisitions of this sort take some time to digest, and analysts are expecting Rossignol to drag on performance for the immediate future. Perhaps the skate and ski cultures are not so far removed after all, and other than assimilating a manufacturing operation into a clothing retailer (no small feat, to be sure), the potential to become a sporting goods force to be reckoned with remains exciting.
The resulting sell-off avalanche may provide investors an opportunity to get an attractive price on a company that had risen some 75% over the past year. Now sitting almost 20% off those highs, it might be the time to take a closer look at a chance to make some quick silver of one's own.
Read about how Quiksilver has been making some "ching" this past year:
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Fool contributor Rich Duprey was disturbed to learn that his teenage daughter considers herself to be a "skater chick." He owns shares in K2 but does not own any of the other stocks mentioned in the article.