Saturday, February 17, 2024

Posterity For Austerity

Friend o'the Archive David Eskenazi, who has been sending me various care packages of Topps corporate goodies from time to time, recently sent another batch my way.  This time, the fully stuffed mailer was loaded up with Topps Annual and Board Reports, covering the fiscal years 1980 to 1983, a very tumultuous time for the company and the hobby at large. I've looked at the 1973-1976 Annual Reports previously, and since I have none from 1977 to 1979, let's look at 1980 today.  

For the fiscal year ending March 1, 1980 Topps laid a very giant egg!  You can tell things were off just by looking at the cover:

Yeah, that's not good.....let's let Arthur and Joel Shorin explain:

That's an excellent soft-soap job, I must say.  Lead with the bad news, then pile up some good news and sprinkle in some rosy projections!

As mentioned, I don't have annual reports (yet) covering fiscal years 1977-1979 but the 1980 Summary of Sales and Earnings recaps those years as part of its look back.  It's clear the prior years were all profitable, especially the one just prior:

Things were not looking good for the stock price as 1980 dragged on-dig that downward trend!  It looks like inflation took a big bite out of earnings:

I might have to rethink my previous snarky comments about Bubble Fudge! Reading on we see the  relationship between sales and operating expenses really affected things, which is no surprise. The Irish subsidiary mentioned below will loom larger as the Eighties progress but for now, all was hunky-dory across the pond:

I'll spare you most of the tables, but this one caught my eye as it mentions inventories presently on premises at the end of the fiscal year. Let's look at these figures:

Topps had a lot of raw materials on hand, given the amount of wax wrappers, cardboard and various confectionery ingredients required for manufacturing and production.  I assume these figures relate to the wholesale prices of Finished Products and Work-in-Process, which was usually a tad under 60% of retail. There was, of course gum in the wax and cello packs, and also on its own, plus football and hockey cards, non-sports cards and other things like Ring Pops, foreign sales, and on and on. With no breakdowns by product line available, pricing all over the place and a far-flung enterprise, it's a WAG on what that inventory number truly represents in terms of actual products but it looks like there was about $5.5 Million in retail sitting in various Topps warehouses on March 1, 1980 using my admittedly amateurish calculations.

If half of that was trading cards, then it's $2.75 Million in retail, or roughly $1.65 Million wholesale, or a whole lot of cases!

Signing off on this mess, we see some old familiar names and some new ones, changing, as BOD's do, as the years pass:

I'll get into the 1981 report next time out-things really start to get interesting in that one.


Bo said...

On the BOD I see William Shea who got a Stadium named after him.

John Bateman said...

Those figures seem to mirror the US Economy around that time where after no or hardly any growth in 1974-1975, the Economy grew rapidly in 1976 (where Ford almost won the election), with great growth 4-5% (GDP) from 1977 to 1979. The economy began to sink just around the time of the hostage crisis (and increase in gas prices) where it heading back to 0% in 1980.

I am assuming 1981 did not look got for Topps as the economy only grew about 1% and then it was slightly negative in 1982.

I am assuming this was a reason for my greatest disappointment as a card collector upon reading the news in the Sporting News (in late 1982) that Topps was not going to produce an NBA basketball set in 1982-83.