Warnaco's Success = The Death of U.S. Swimming?

It’s no secret that nearly every public company is facing a bit of uncertainty with the recent economic crisis. Warnaco’s stock (NYSE: WRC) is currently hovering around $31 a share, more than $20 down from its high in September. But, upon doing some research, I’m wondering if a bit of negative press is behind the share price too.

In my earlier post, I wrote that Nike has pulled out of making swimwear for U.S. athletes, leaving Speedo as one of only two leading companies making swimsuits. And some are saying that this could significantly affect the future of U.S. swimming. The reason? Of course, money.

“There has been a major increase in the costs … many schools will not be able to purchase them,” the College Swimming Coaches Association of America said.

The suit costs $550 for men and $475 for women and though the NCAA now allows wearing the LZR, the suit is banned among youth competitors.

Speedo’s dominance not only means less options for swimsuits, it also means less money for high-level athletes.

Evan Morgenstein, agent for a number of top US swimmers, said Nike’s decision was a blow to elite athletes who depend heavily on apparel companies for their funding – especially in non-Olympic years.

I’m not sure if this at all affects Warnaco’s bottom line. Clearly, the LZR is working in the swimming world, and will continue to sell among elite swimmers. But it is causing a debate that I’m sure will only heat up in the next few years.

[Image Courtesy: beliefnet]

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