http://www.startribune.com/535/story/415495.html Sportsman's Guide to be acquired by French firm Last update: May 05, 2006 – 9:56 PM The Sportsman's Guide Inc., a once-struggling catalog retailer that transformed itself by shifting sales online, on Friday agreed to be acquired by French retailer Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, or PPR SA, in a deal valued at $265 million. The South St. Paul company, which sells outdoor equipment and clothing through multiple websites, will receive $31 a share in cash -- a 15 percent premium over the company's closing stock price Thursday. The deal would leave Sportsman's Guide under the control of PPR's home shopping division, Redcats USA. Redcats is the world's third-largest mail-order firm. The deal still must be approved by both companies' shareholders. Based in New York, Redcats sells men's and women's clothing, including some popular plus-size brands, online and through catalogs. There is almost no overlap between the two companies, which means Sportsman's Guide's headquarters and warehouse in South St. Paul likely will be kept intact, analysts said. "It's a perfect buyer, because there won't be a tremendous amount of consolidation," said Mario Cibelli, portfolio manager at Marathon Partners, a New York-based money management firm that owns more than 100,000 shares of Sportsman's Guide. And Redcats might not want to meddle with Sportsman's Guide's success. The company, founded in the early 1970s as a newsletter for deer hunters, has annual sales of $285 million last year, a 59 percent jump since 2002. Its earnings per share have nearly tripled during the same period, from 51 cents a share in 2002 to $1.38 last year. Sportsman's Guide shares have gone from as low as $1.13 a share in May 2001 to Thursday's close of $27. In 1996, shares traded for a mere 12 cents per share. Greg Binkley, Sportsman's Guide's president chief executive officer, orchestrated the turnaround by broadening the selection of merchandise and selling more products online through a variety of websites, which include www.bargainoutfitters.com and www.baseballsavings.com. The company also expanded its buyers club from 130,000 members in 2000 to 413,000 members. Members pay $30 annually for discounts and advance notice of special deals. In June 2004, the company bought Golf Warehouse for $30 million, which added a line of golf apparel and equipment to Sportsman's portfolio. Though the catalogs generate less than half of Sportsman's Guide's total sales, they remain popular with bargain-conscious outdoors enthusiasts. They contain more than 11,000 separate products, from hunting knives and hiking boots to RV equipment and pickup bed liners. "It isn't like a Cabela's catalog, which is selling the same stuff over and over again," Cibelli said. "It's a real grab bag of different things that makes people excited about getting the catalog, because they don't know what they'll find." On Friday, shares of Sportsman's Guide rose $3.46, or nearly 13 percent, to $30.46.