Bears may hibernate through the winter, but sometimes you can't let a little deep slumber get in the way of an amorous relationship. Build-A-Bear Workshop
The $41.4 million cash acquisition will help fortify Build-A-Bear's global position, but it won't be new soil for the company. Build-A-Bear already has 11 locations in the United Kingdom.
Both concepts are fairly similar, selling teddy bears that are stuffed as they are ordered. Both firms allow you to pay a few bucks (or pounds) more to add recorded sounds. Then come the various outfits and accessories, because who would want a naked teddy bear? Both chains also allow you to order online, but really, what's the fun in that?
Build-A-Bear expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings per share next year, but it will cost the company in 2006. It had originally guided shareholders to expect earnings between $1.57 and $1.63 a share. However, the company now expects that figure to fall by $0.10 to $0.13 per share as the new stores are integrated into the Build-A-Bear bloodstream.
Shortly after the company went public in 2004, I suggested that Build-A-Bear had the potential to become a selection for Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. The ultimate growth stock newsletter has singled out a few online retailers in the past -- like upscale jeweler Blue Nile
This acquisition helps to illustrate why Build-A-Bear Workshop didn't ultimately make the cut. It's a novel concept, but it's too easy to mimic. At this moment, folks can get started for a pittance with bear-stuffing machines from companies like Bear Mill or Teddy Bear Stuffers, which can even be set up as cheap shopping-mall kiosks. Just last month, a bear-stuffing machine listed on eBay
Build-A-Bear has done its part to stand out in the crowd, teaming up to produce special stuffed bears and dolls with most of the major pro sporting leagues, and even Mattel's
It may not be enough. Even before the buyout knocked down its guidance over the weekend, Build-A-Bear expected to grow earnings by no more than 21% this year. It had grown its profitability by 26% in 2005. That kind of slow growth, in a trendy space with a thin moat, no longer excites me.
It's just too easy to roll out a Build-A-Fool concept, complete with jester dolls, personalized stock certificates, and buy/sell/hold voices. Sorry, Build-A-Bear, but I'll have to pass this time.
Mattel is an Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, while eBay has made the cut for Motley Fool Stock Advisor . Whatever your investing style, the Fool has a newsletter for you; see for yourself with a free 30-day guest pass.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wants to be "beary" clear that he really has no intention to roll with his Build-A-Fool concept. The prototypes just didn't test well. He owns shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.