INVESTING: Adventurous investors could get thrill riding surf stocks

Keywords Sports Business

Surf’s up! Because I love surfing, those words have been music to my ears for more than 25 years. Now, Wall Street is showing some enthusiasm for the sport, too, as well as the culture that surrounds it.

The California surf culture has been setting fashion trends across America for decades. The sport of surfing has witnessed consistently strong growth since the Beach Boys and Gidgett exploded into the mainstream in the 1960s.

For evidence of the incredible reach of surfing, head up to Lake Michigan this November, and you’ll see surfers riding the waves.

The numbers behind the industry are lucrative. The best equipment (which for this sport make sense to buy because it makes surfing more enjoyable) has huge markups. New surfboards cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, and they break every two years or so.

Most Americans can get a quick beach fix buying surfing-related clothes, which invariably cost more than non-surf items. The surf-film industry is so productive it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the new releases.

There are only two surfing-related publicly traded companies in America today. The first, Quicksilver, listed its shares in 1990.The second, Volcom, came public a month ago. Combined, these two companies have a market value of slightly under $3 billion.

Considering the global surfing industry probably encompasses $30 billion in annual revenue, this appears to be an underrepresented area on Wall Street.

Both Quiksilver and Volcom receive the bulk of their revenue from clothes and accessories. Quiksilver’s stock has done well the past 15 years, but it looks as though Volcom now has the advantage. Volcom has a much broader strategy than Quiksilver, incorporating many other popular youth culture sports.

Volcom’s head spokesman is Bruce Irons, brother of three-time defending world surfing champion Andy Irons. Bruce is ranked 11th in the world, so he is no slouch in the water. He comes across as edgy and slightly anti-authority. I am sure the company will have no problem taking that model into other sports.

Quiksliver prides itself on its surfing heritage. The company rings up almost $2 billion in revenue a year, and its association with Kelly Slater-who is on track to win his seventh world title when the surf tour wraps up in December-could give sales a big boost.

One of my problems with both of these stocks is I have no touch when it comes to fashion trends. Surfing is hot now. But will it be next year?

I think both stocks are poised for higher prices over the next four to six months. Beyond that, you’ll be surfing the reef alone.



Hauke is a local money manager. His column appears weekly.Views expressed here are the writer’s. Hauke can be reached at 566-2162 or at keenan@longboatglobal.com.

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