|VSTY back on Nasdaq. Peter Lynch has a 7% position.|
Varsity Group Back in Class
By Rich Smith
September 30, 2004
It's been more than four years since the last, and only, time the Fool has covered textbook-hawker Varsity Group (Nasdaq: VSTY). But today seems like a good one to update everyone on the company's fortunes. For as of 9:30 EST yesterday, the company has been readmitted to the select class of stocks from which it was booted in early 2001.
Varsity originally joined the Nasdaq in a February 2000 initial public offering at a $10 share price. February, you say? 2000? Yes, indeed. And you're right to be incredulous. The company could hardly have picked a worse time to come public as a schoolbook-selling-over-the-Internet dot-com than the very start of the bursting of the dot-com bubble. In fact, within a month of its IPO, Varsity was well on its way to falling under the $5 share price threshold for trading on the Nasdaq. It continued to fall over subsequent months and years, eventually reaching its nadir at $0.06 per share.
Traders who believe there is such a thing as being able to "time" the market are no doubt now crowing about how they turned their buys in Varsity at that price into 100-baggers now that the stock is trading well over $6 a stub. One investor who is probably feeling pretty proud of his buy decision is famed value investor, author of One Up on Wall Street, and Motley Fool Hidden Gems idol Peter Lynch, who owns nearly 7% of Varsity's stock. For the rest of us, it's just good to know that the company is back among the ranks of the non-penny stocks. That should earn it a full write-up on Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) Finance and make tracking the company's financial performance much easier.
After all, Varsity faces stiff competition in the educational textbook market. Market titans eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) are already dominant in the field. Nonetheless, Varsity has been holding its own recently, as a direct result of its seeking a profitable niche market in providing textbooks to prep school students. The company currently has more than 300 such schools signed up as partners, each of which directs its students to Varsity's website to buy their educational materials for the school year. And those almost-guaranteed sales have helped the company post two consecutive years of profits despite all the competition the big boys can offer.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.