Amazon unit may be moving into sporting goods

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:03pm EST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc's Quidsi unit may be getting into sporting goods, challenging retailers in this niche, including Dick's Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports and Cabela's, analysts at Credit Suisse said Monday.

Recent online job postings by Amazon and Quidsi describe a new "sports and activities" business and an "Outdoor Sportsman destination," the analysts, led by Gary Balter, wrote in a note to investors.

Quidsi did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday. An Amazon.com representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Quidsi, acquired by Amazon in 2010, has opened several new websites focusing on specific types of products, including toys, pet supplies and cosmetics.

A Quidsi home furnishing website, casa.com, is close to launching and already promises more than 35,000 bedroom, bathroom, home decor and kitchen products.

Quidsi's expansion plans are watched closely by investors because the company often prices products aggressively to win new customers, putting pressure on profits of rivals.

When the company's pet supplies site, wag.com, launched last year, shares of PetSmart Inc fell and took about three months to recover those losses.

The sporting goods sector lacks a good website partly because many brands limit online distribution for fear of diminishing their image or disrupting existing relationships with independent specialty retailers, Credit Suisse analysts noted on Monday.

"A major specialty effort through Quidsi could change that," the analysts said.

Shares of Dick's, Hibbett and Cabela's may be hit in the short term, while the launch of casa.com may dent Bed, Bath & Beyond and Williams Sonoma, they added.

Dick's shares were down 0.8 percent at $40.85 on Monday afternoon, while Hibbett was down 2.7 percent at $47.62 and Cabela's was down 2 percent at $26.35.

Bed, Bath & Beyond declined 2.4 percent to $61.05 and Williams Sonoma was up 1.3 percent at $35.57.

Amazon.com stock was down 2.3 percent at $190.85 on the Nasdaq on Monday afternoon.

(Reporting By Alistair Barr, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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