JD Sports Fashion to acquire U.S. brand Finish Line

JD Sports

After months of speculation about Finish Line Inc.'s future, the retailer is selling itself to European athletic retail giant JD Sports Fashion PLC in a $558 million deal. The news has FINL stock on track for its best day since at least 2008.

Listed on the NASDAQ with a market capitalisation of approximately $425m (£301m), for the year to 3 March 2018 Finish Line had revenues of $1.84bn (£1.3bn).

Not surprisingly, analysts had been in the bearish camp. This downbeat outlook was shared by short sellers. Arizona State Retirement System raised its stake in shares of Finish Line by 224.5% in the fourth quarter.

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Near-term options traders, however, are more call-heavy than usual, despite limited volume. Additionally, Finish line has over $77million in cash and no long-term debt. The company is expected to issue its next earnings report on Friday, March 23rd. Buckingham Research set a $7.00 price target on shares of Finish Line and gave the stock a "sell" rating in a research note on Monday, December 25th.

The company said non-GAAP EPS is expected to be between $0.58 and $0.59 up from its prior guidance of $0.50 to $0.58, which is just above the $0.57 per share consensus of analysts polled by Capital IQ. The purchase price is below the stock's 52-week high of $16.38, and well below a five-year high of roughly $32 per share. The companies say they expect to close the deal in June. Public Employees Retirement System of OH increased its position in shares of Finish Line by 15.9% during the 2nd quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas bought a new position in shares of Finish Line in the fourth quarter worth about $202,000. Public Employees Retirement System of OH now owns 10,969 shares of the specialty retailer's stock worth $155,000 after purchasing an additional 1,504 shares during the last quarter.

The directors also believe that they will be able to bring "new and differentiated product" to the U.S. market through the opening of a number of JD branded stores and accelerated refurbishment of the Finish Line stores, as well as working with Finish Line's management to continue to consolidate Finish Line's retail estate and improve its retail offer. It is also the exclusive retailer of athletic shoes, both in-store and online, for Macy's. It boasts an established online business and sells brands including Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Brand Jordan and Puma.

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