"Jackye Hoover of Jenks said she went straight from Thanksgiving dinner to Dick's Sporting Goods at the Tulsa Hills shopping center to be the first in line for an advertised deal. 'I'm here to get an AR-15 for only $799,' Hoover said, describing a semi-automatic assault rifle on sale at the store. 'It's $300 off.' She said the Thanksgiving Day wait didn't bother her, and she brought her teenage daughter to keep her company during the wait."
It's interesting to note that Ms. Hoover's purchase is described in the article as an "assault rifle," in contrast to the statement in Dick's annual report that "we do not sell hand guns, assault weapons or automatic firearms, we do sell hunting rifles, semi-automatic hunting rifles and ammunition, which are products that are associated with an increased risk of injury and related lawsuits
So one person's "semi-automatic hunting rifle" is another person's "semi-automatic assault rifle." It's a state of mind--and perhaps of denial.
A Firearm for the Fair Sex
Dick's is very conscious of its image as a good citizen. Its annual report has a nice page on "Corporate Responsibility." Its charitable initiatives include a program to donate sports equipment to youth, and being a corporate sponsor of medical research and treatment of childhood cancers. Of course, these are not strictly altruistic -- Dick's, like most companies, gets a hefty public relations benefit for its very public association with such causes. Meanwhile, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Dick's was one of several companies lauded for its commitment to diversity, with at least 25 percent of its executives being women.
That diversity does not necessarily manifest itself in the maternal instinct. According to the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina...
"Manufacturers have also tapped into the female market more...even offering pink air rifles this year at Dick's Sporting Goods.
"There are many more products for women to choose from..."
The National Sporting Goods Association's annual sports participation report showed a 51.5 percent increase of women taking up target shooting over the past decade -- from 3.34 million in 2001 to 5.06 million in 2011.
It's the American Way
In an economy heavily bolstered by sales of guns and ammunition (a $4-12 billion industry), everyone has a stake in Dick's well-being. It is the New York Stock Exchange's 21st largest retailing company by market capitalization. Though its stock had been sliding in the week before the massacre, shortly before the onslaught Citigroup reaffirmed their "buy" rating for Dick's. A contractor, GSI Commerce, which handles Dick's substantial online activities, is owned by eBay.
As Investors Business Daily reported two days before the massacre, "If analysts' forecasts are on the money, top-performing retailers of all stripes such as sporting goods chain Dick's Sporting Goods." should keep up their winning streak this Christmas period, with double-digit fourth-quarter earnings forecast by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters."
Indeed, the day of the assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dick's Sporting Goods announced a special cash dividend because the company is just bursting with funds.
"This additional return of approximately $254 million in cash to our shareholders demonstrates the strength of our balance sheet, the health of our business and a commitment to efficiently deploy our strong cash generation," said Edward W. Stack, Chairman and CEO.
So, who believes Dick's (or any other gun dealer) is going to stop selling "modern rifles" (for hunting or otherwise) a second longer than it must to survive the current p.r. nightmare?
For GRAPHIC Info, see here.
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