Public DM Firms Close 2003 on a High

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The year of the turnaround.


That's how 2003 will be remembered in terms of publicly traded direct marketing industry firms.


Stocks in the DM News Portfolio produced a combined 50.05 percent increase for the recently concluded year, a far cry from the 22.4 percent drop in 2002.


"This DM News Portfolio has tracked Nasdaq's performance in 2003, so the upward trend is not surprising with the abundance of small-cap stocks that make up the DM News Portfolio," said Mike Petsky, CEO of Petsky Prunier, New York, an investment bank involved in direct marketing industry mergers and acquisitions.


"We see marketing service sectors and, in particular, interactive advertising having experienced a strong recovery," he said. "We expect to see more improvement in 2004 in overall performance and stock prices as a result. A major factor driving the upward trend is marketers beginning to open up their customer acquisition and marketing budgets."


Nearly tripling in value was Amazon.com Inc., Seattle, leaving behind its final 2002 price of $18.89 and reaching $53.47 on Dec. 29.


Also among the year's big winners was Sportsman's Guide Inc., South St. Paul, MN, a marketer of outdoor gear. It more than doubled its value, climbing from $7 on the final day of 2002 to $17.70 on Dec. 29.


Moving in stride with the nation's economic recovery was Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco. Its $17.43 stock price on Dec. 31, 2002, is a distant memory as it reached $34 on Dec. 29.


Other big winners from 2003:


· Summit America Television Inc., Naples, FL, formerly Shop at Home Inc., which owns and operates five TV stations and holds a 30 percent interest in Shop at Home Network LLC, a nationally televised home shopping channel. It's up to $3.91 from its year-ago price of $2.67.


· Joseph A Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, which reached $34.68 compared with 2002's final price of $21.32.


· Database giant infoUSA Inc., Omaha, NE, up from $4.97 to $7.90.


· Computer giants Gateway Inc., Poway, CA, which produced an increase to $4.67 from $3.14, and Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX, improving from $26.74 to $34.26.


· Williams-Sonoma Inc., San Francisco, rising from $27.15 to $34.48.


· Bombay Co. Inc., Fort Worth, TX, climbing from $5 a year ago to $7.88.


· However, prominent exceptions were part of the mix. Among them were bankrupt FAO Inc. (down from 47 cents Dec. 31, 2002, to 11 cents Dec. 29, 2003), Spiegel Inc. (falling to 5 cents from 36 cents during the year) and Geerlings & Wade (77 cents to 49 cents).


In other news, FAO Inc. changed its ticker symbol from FAOO to FAOOQ.


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