Acushnet Holdings Corp.

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk01: Hello everyone and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the AcoucheNet Company's first quarter 2023 earnings call. My name is Emily and I'll be coordinating your call today. After the prepared remarks there will be the opportunity for any questions which you can ask by pressing start followed by one on your telephone keypads. I will now turn the call over to our host Sandra Lennon, Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis. Please go ahead.
spk00: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for Acushnet Holding Corp's first quarter 2023 earnings conference call. Joining me this morning are David Marr, our President and Chief Executive Officer, and Tom Pacheco, our Chief Financial Officer. Before I turn the call over to David, I would like to remind everyone that we will be making forward-looking statements on the call today. These forward-looking statements are based on Acushnet's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from these expectations. For a list of factors that could cause actual results to differ, please see today's press release, the slides that accompany our presentation, and our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Throughout this discussion, we will make reference to non-GAAP financial metrics, including items such as revenues at constant currency and adjusted EBITDA. Explanations of how and why we use these metrics and reconciliations of these items to a GAAP basis can be found in the schedules in today's press release, the slides that accompany this presentation, and in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Please also note that references throughout this presentation to year-on-year sales increases and decreases are on a constant currency basis unless otherwise stated as we feel this measurement best provides context as to the performance and trends of our business. And when referring to year-to-date results or comparisons, we will refer to the three-month period ended March 31, 2023, and the comparable three-month period. With that, I'll turn the call over to David.
spk08: Thanks, Sandra, and good morning, everyone. As always, we appreciate your interest in Acushnet Holdings. I am pleased to report on a strong start to the year, and as reflected by our results, the Acushna team is excelling on the product development, manufacturing, and supply chain management fronts. My talented teammates are doing great work adapting and strengthening our capabilities, adding agility and capacity to keep pace with steady demand. Showcasing the overall health and diversity of the Accushnet portfolio, each segment and region reported gains in the quarter with Titleist golf balls, clubs, and gear growing double digits, helping to fuel the company's 17% year-over-year increase to $686 million in the quarter. And bottom line results for the period grew by 22% as Accushnet delivered adjusted EBITDA of $147 million generating operating leverage and benefiting from favorable mix shifts from our full slate of new product launches. We are pleased with this start to the year and the continued momentum of our core consumer, which is translating across our businesses. Tom will share greater details in a few minutes. Shifting now to our segment overview, Titleist Golf Balls increased 21% over last year. led by the successful launch of new Pro V1 and Pro V1X in all regions. For context, we shipped roughly a half a million dozen more Pro V1s compared to last year, which is commentary on the health of the franchise and our strengthening supply chain. New Pro V1 models are quickly making their mark across the worldwide professional tours and contributing to 74% usage, more than eight times the nearest competitor. And with 70 wins through last week, Titleist Golf Balls have notched 58 more titles than the number two brand. Titleist was the most played ball at the Augusta National Women's Amateur, trusted by 74% of the competitors in one of their most prestigious events. And since switching to new Pro V1X, Lily of You has played five tournaments and won two of them, including her first major at last week's Chevron Championship. During the stretch, she is an incredible 64 under par with her new Pro V1X golf ball. On the supply side, Titleist golf ball channel inventories are in good shape to start the year, and we are steadily building our back stock to normalized levels. Our global golf ball inventories are at their healthiest levels since 2019, although we do anticipate that Pro V1 and AVX models will remain in tight supply through the summer months. Titleist golf clubs also posted a strong start to the year with sales increasing 16% to $181 million. New TSR driver and fairway momentum continues to build as this franchise enters its first spring season. And we are especially pleased with TSR's performance in light of so many competitive launches in the quarter. TSR is the most played driver on the PGA and DP World Tours. and affirming the strength of Titleist clubs across the competitive spectrum, Titleist was the number one driver, iron, and wedge at the 2023 Augusta National Women's Amateur. Our team did great work successfully launching the all-new lineup of Scottie Cameron Super Select putters in March as we continue to strengthen this leading putter franchise. Our overall golf club component availability is in good shape, and we expect lead times to be healthy throughout the upcoming season. On to Titleist Gear, which was up 57% for the quarter. This outsized growth reflects strong demand for our new Lynx Legend and Player Standbags, a favorable comp against last year's supply chain limited quarter, and the early shipment of some April custom gear demand as we prioritize service and build momentum in our custom operations. Gear was most impacted by last year's supply chain complications, and as seen with these first quarter results, Our team has done great work adapting to ensure product is available when and where it is most needed. Now to FootJoy, which posted sales of $205 million, an 8% increase for the quarter. FJ Apparel had another terrific quarter with sales up double digits as we realized the benefits from recently enhanced customization and fulfillment capabilities. Similar to Custom Gear, We ship some April custom apparel demand in March as we strive for on-time or early delivery to start the season. The FJ team fortified its position as the number one shoe in golf with new Premier, Hyperflex, and Traditions launches in the quarter. FJ golf shoes are defined by performance, style, and comfort innovation, and we are especially pleased with FJ's positive energy and momentum, which are helping the brand to stand out in this category. Not noted on this slide, but worthy of mention, is the ongoing growth and development of our Schuss business, which was up over 30% in the quarter. We are enthused about Schuss's momentum and long-term growth prospects, as our team does great work building a foundation around product and operational excellence to support the brand's continued expansion. Now, taking a look at revenues across regions, you see the U.S. market set the pace up 25% for the quarter, and with growth coming from all segments. Japan and Korea also reflect the good work of our teams to set the stage and position new Titleist and Footjoy products for the peak spring and summer period. Our business across EMEA was flat in the quarter, in line with expectations and comping against last year's outsized growth. Globally, while the first quarter is not a major driver to annual rounds of play, U.S. rounds were flat for the period in spite of declines in the West resulting from much needed rainfall. Rounds outside the U.S. are projected down low single digits for the quarter, again due to unfavorable weather comps. Overall, global golf participation remains healthy and resilient as we enter the second quarter. Before handing the call over to Tom, I will affirm our confidence in the company's product lines and operational capabilities. and the resilience and engagement of a Kushnitz target consumer, the game's dedicated golfer. Interest in the sport is in great shape. The professional game is healthy, as reflected by strong ratings, and golf courses are financially sound, with many making meaningful capital investments to enhance their long-term value proposition and appeal. The Cushnet's retail inventories are very healthy and total channel inventories have returned to normal levels and golf shops are well stocked for this time of year. As is often the case, there are pockets that have our attention, including footwear in the U.S., golf clubs in Japan, and apparel in Korea. Our teams are well conditioned to monitor these situations and will adapt if and as necessary. In summary, the golf industry is on firm footing and well positioned for the future, And while a Cushnet is not immune to macroeconomic pressures, we have over time proven to be resilient due to the avidity and favorable demographic profile of our core consumer, the game's dedicated player. Our global teams have done nice work positioning Titleist, FootJoy, and Shoes Products in golf shops, and we are confident in our ability to deliver compelling product and service experiences throughout the upcoming season. Thanks for your attention this morning. I will now pass the call over to Tom.
spk07: Thanks, David, and good morning, everyone. I would like to begin by thanking our talented associates for their outstanding effort they put forth in Q1 to deliver yet another strong quarter for Acushnet. Starting with our Q1 results on slide 9, consolidated net sales were $686 million, up 13% reported, and up 17% level FX versus 2022. This is a strong start to the year, with all reportable segments showing growth in the quarter on both a reported and constant currency basis. Gross profit for the first quarter was $366 million, up 49 million, or 15% versus the prior year, and gross margins were 53.3%, up 100 basis points. The increase in gross profit and gross margin is primarily the result of higher sales volumes and lower inbound freight costs, partially offset by the unfavorable impact of currency across all reportable segments. SG&A expense in Q1 was $223 million, up $27 million, or 14% compared to 2022, and R&D expense was $15 million, up slightly compared to the prior year. The increase in SG&A was primarily from higher selling expense due to increased sales volumes Increased advertising and promotional expense primarily related to new product launches and an increase and administrative expense mainly due to employee related costs. Income from operations for the quarter was 125Million up 20Million or 19% compared to 2022. Interest expense was up 9 million in the quarter compared to last year, with a little more than half of the increase coming from higher debt balances and the remainder coming from higher interest rates. Our effective income tax rate for Q1 was 18.1%, down from 20.4% last year, primarily because of a result of a shift in our mix of jurisdictional earnings. Net income attributable to Accushnet Holdings was $93 million, up $12 million, or 15% compared to 2022. And adjusted EBITDA was $147 million, up $27 million, or 22% from the prior year. There is a reconciliation of net income to adjusted EBITDA for Q1 in our earnings release, as well as in the appendix of the slide presentation. Moving to slide 10, the strength of our balance sheet continues to provide us flexibility. At the end of Q1, we had about $55 million of unrestricted cash on hand. Total debt outstanding was approximately $829 million with approximately $159 million of available borrowings remaining under our revolving credit facility. Our leverage ratio was 1.8 times at the end of Q1. The increase in our total debt results primarily from an increase in working capital, our share repurchase program, and our recent acquisitions. Consolidated accounts receivable at the end of Q1 was $435 million, up $58 million from Q1 of the prior year. And our day sales outstanding was 52 days, up one day compared to Q1 of 2022. Inventory at the end of Q1 was $639 million, down $36 million, or 5% from the end of 2022. We saw overall declines in golf clubs, gear, and foot joy. and an expected increase in golf ball inventory during the quarter as we continue to play catch up from previous raw material shortages. Overall, we are comfortable with our inventory quality and position, and we are confident that our inventory will continue to trend towards normal seasonal levels with further decreases in Q2 and Q3 before a slight increase in Q4 when we prepare for 2024 product launches and golf season. Cash flow from operations for the first quarter of 2023 was an outflow of 86 million compared to an outflow of 164 million for the same period in 2022. The improvement in cash flows from operations comes primarily from a lower use of working capital, mainly inventory. And we continue to make meaningful CapEx investments in our business. We spent 12 million on CapEx during Q1, about the same as Q1 2022. We still expect our full year capital expenditures to increase compared to the full year 2022 to about 75 million as we continue our golf ball strategic investment program, make investments in club assembly capacity around the world, and continue to make investments in our fitting capabilities to further enhance our golfer connection. Moving to slide 11, our strong financial results support the continued execution of our capital allocation strategy. Our highest priority remains investing in the business in the form of OpEx and CapEx with a focus on product innovation, golfer connection, and operational excellence. And we will continue to evaluate potential acquisitions and other investments that align with our focus on premium performance products that appeal to dedicated golfers. We believe that these investments advance our long-term strategy and drive growth at a favorable return. Our focus on generating strong free cash flow and returning capital to shareholders continues to be a high priority. In March, we paid our previously announced dividend, which resulted in a cash outflow of approximately $14 million. And our board of directors today declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.195 per share payable on June 16 to shareholders of record on June 2. This will result in a Q2 cash outflow of approximately $13 million. During Q1, we purchased about 2.5 million shares of our common stock for approximately 116 million, including approximately 2.2 million shares from Magnus for 100 million. At the end of Q1, we had about 291 million remaining under our current share repurchase authorization. Our capital allocation strategy is a foundational element of Acushnet's value proposition, which we continue to believe creates a compelling long-term total return for our shareholders. Shifting to our outlook on slide 12, we are pleased with our solid start to the year, and we are maintaining our guidance, as it is our practice to not make meaningful shifts in our guidance until we get through the first half of the year. Overall, we continue to see steady demand for golf and Acushnet products, We are pleased with the success of our recent launches and are excited about our upcoming product introductions over the balance of the year. As you would expect, our outlook continues to be tempered somewhat by caution given the overall economic environment. While currency is still expected to be a headwind for the balance of the year and more so in Q2, we expect all segments to show growth on a constant currency basis for the full year. We expect to continue to benefit from lower inbound freight rates and reduced air freight utilization. However, we expect some headwinds from higher input costs and from the return of some promotional activity, albeit at lower than pre-pandemic levels. Taking these factors into consideration, we are reaffirming our full year 2023 guidance. We expect consolidated net sales to be in the range of 2.325 to 2.375 billion, up 3.5% on a reported basis at the midpoint. On a constant currency basis, consolidated net sales are expected to be up between 5 and 7.2%. And we expect full-year adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of 345 million to 365 million Up 5% compared to 2022 at the midpoint. In conclusion, our associates and trade partners enabled us to again deliver strong results in Q1. While being cautious, given current economic uncertainty, we are pleased by the structural health of the industry, the momentum of our brands, and the investments we are making in the business. We remain confident we will meet or beat our financial goals for 2023 and beyond and deliver a solid long-term total return for our shareholders. With that, I will now turn the call over to Sandra for Q&A.
spk00: Thanks, Tom. Operator, could we please open the line for questions?
spk01: Of course. If you would like to ask a question today, please do so now by pressing start followed by the number one on your telephone keypad. If you change your mind and would like to be removed from the queue, Please press star and then two. When preparing to ask your question, please ensure that your microphone and your device are unmuted locally. We will just take a brief pause to assemble our Q&A roster. Our first question today comes from Daniel Imbrow with Steven Think. Please go ahead, Daniel.
spk03: Yeah. Hey, good morning, everybody. Thanks for taking our questions. David, I want to start on the golf club side. You know, really impressive. I think TSR seems to be holding in market share pretty well, despite competitors launching product. We have seen some other large competitors launch additional products kind of later in 1Q. So I guess, could you characterize the competitive backdrop you're seeing for golf clubs? Are you seeing anything changing on the promotional or just pricing front? Maybe not promotion, just MSRP pricing? And how do you think that unfolds through the year? Is all the product out? Could there be more launches coming from competitors that stuff the inventory and the channel more? Just kind of curious how you think that plays out this year.
spk08: Yeah, good morning, Daniel. So first off, we are very pleased with TSR. And as is the case every spring and every first quarter, we do anticipate a whole lot of competitive activity. You know, we launch... We launch typically in Q3 of even years, and then we brace for a whole lot of competitive launches in the first quarter of odd years, which is the case this year. We're certainly seeing inventories at full levels, which commentary on as much time of year. Inventories in golf shops are ready for the season ahead, so... We've not seen any meaningful areas for concern. You do bring up a good point. There have been some extensions, as I think the industry puts forth some new products, as everybody thinks about a new golfer base and a little bit bigger golfer base than existed three, four, five years ago. But really, in terms of how that's impacting the market, I think too soon to say in many respects. I'll remind... everybody that, you know, in many parts of the country and the world, golf is just getting started. We're two weeks in here up in New England. In Europe, a similar story, just getting started. So best characterized is there's an appropriate amount of inventory in the marketplace. Golf shops are full, and really a lot will depend on what plays out over the next couple of months. In terms of our own plans with TSR, Again, we like our approach. We like the way we come at it with two-year product life cycles, and sort of our modeling anticipates what we get out of Q4 and then what we typically see in the first part of the year through competitive launches. But more than anything, we like the way we've weathered the storm of competitive launches, if you will.
spk03: Great. And quick clarifier, you guys a couple years ago did some extension, to use that phrase as well. Is the TSR lineup full today, or could there be more that you guys could look at?
spk08: Yeah, I think we like where we are. And our lineup is really fitting base. TSR 2, TSR 3 would be the core. TSR 4 hits a different part of the spectrum, and TSR 1 hits a different part of the spectrum. But we like where we are. I'll tell you, the one addition we did put in the market this spring was some lightweight Vokey wedges. Not a big volume play, but it's just an emerging part of the market. Again, commentary on the new consumer that's out there and some new fitting interest that we're seeing around just a generally lighter weight wedge. So we did enter that space in the first quarter of this year, but again, not a major volume play, but we think an important space for us to be in.
spk03: Great. That's helpful. And then for my last question, just on the guidance, I think it's been an investor focus this morning. Given the beat, the momentum sounds like it's continuing, David. Can you just talk about the puts and takes of why you didn't take up the guidance? You did mention in your prepared remarks that there were some April shipments for foot joy and gear that got pulled forward into March. Maybe could you quantify what that pull forward was into March and then just talk about the guidance and maybe why you're keeping it here after a solid start to the year?
spk08: Yeah, so we did, you know, custom demand, custom throughput has been the most challenging over the last couple of years, as it tends to happen in the peak season of February, March, April. So our custom operations really around Footshoy Apparel in the U.S. and Titleist Gear in the U.S., we were just compelled to keep those engines moving and moving fast, and that allowed us to pull some demand forward. I'd put that in the $5 million to $10 million range, Daniel, just for context. And then as it relates to guidance, that's as much about our past practice. We've been at this a long time, and we just think it's prudent to see the season unfold and see what happens with sell-through because so much of what you get in the first quarter is sell-in. Certainly there's a decent amount of sell-through coming from open markets and the Sun Belt. We just think it's prudent, and it's been our past practice to defer any meaningful guidance shifts until we get through the second quarter. We are obviously pleased with the start, but we think it's the right prudent play to see things unfold a little bit over the coming months.
spk03: Perfect. Appreciate all the color this morning, and best of luck moving into the spring. Thanks.
spk01: Our next question today comes from Casey Alexander with Compass Point. Casey, please go ahead.
spk06: Yeah, hi, good morning. A couple quick questions. First of all, are you generating any longer-term expense savings from the IP purchase that you made previously?
spk07: Good morning, Casey. Yes, we are. So as we said last quarter, that shift shifted from sort of a royalty model to an own model. and and so the the costs associated that shifted out of the cost of goods sold line item in the P&L and into the amortization line item and there is a benefit of that given the duration of the amortization life of the intangibles all right great thank you secondly how much still remains open on the share repurchase program
spk06: And would you, given the increase in long-term debt outstanding, would you kind of shift priorities to bring that back down some before reengaging on share repurchase, or do you still have room to do both?
spk07: So at the end of Q1, we had a little over $290 million remaining under our current share repurchase authorization. You know, our... Increased debt level at the end of Q1 is as much a function of our seasonality as anything else. But the end of Q1 is always our highest borrowing point in the year. And in fact, at the end of April, our debt is already below $750 million. So we would anticipate continuing with our share repurchases in a similar manner to what we've been doing, I think, last time we said. We expect the current authorization to be fully utilized sort of mid next year.
spk06: Okay, great. Thank you. And then my last question is there was a couple million dollars of one-time items that added back into EBITDA from the distribution and custom fulfillment investments. Is that just one quarter or should we expect to see that over a number of quarters before it runs off?
spk07: You should expect to see that over at least the next two quarters and potentially bleeding a little bit into Q4.
spk06: Okay, great. Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking my questions.
spk07: Thanks, Casey. Thank you.
spk01: Thank you. Operator, next question, please. The next question comes from JP Wallum with Roth Capital Partners. Please go ahead.
spk02: Great. Thanks for taking the questions today. Um, maybe if we could just start first on the club business, um, maybe from a high level, is there just anything you can point out about any trends you're seeing with, uh, consumers right now, whether it's, you know, shorter repurchase cycles, um, you know, there's so much macro talk going on that I would just be interested if you guys have any thoughts there.
spk08: Yeah. I'll, I'll bring that question first to sort of how we run the club business, right? We, we operate on two year product launches. So we're, we're, we're in year one of drivers and metals and some putters and we're in year two for irons and, uh, and, and wedges. Um, So again, I think that serves us well. I think it helps mitigate some of the ups and downs of the club business, and it lends a sense of resilience and stability to our club business that we've seen over the years. It also, and as importantly, correlates with some repurchase cycle behavior of our consumer. You know, our business is very fitting biased in that the great majority of golf clubs we sell are custom fit. And we think that that's a real positive for our retail partners, for our own business, and most importantly for our consumers. We think get the best experience out of our products. As to what we're seeing, the fitting activity continues to be at a nice level. I think that's reflected in our results where we've done a nice job in all categories. You know, that's probably the most important metric that we would look at is fitting engagement and fitting levels, and globally we continue to see high interest and demand for fittings, and that contributes to our results and our outlook for the coming months in terms of golf clubs.
spk02: Great. Thank you. And then maybe just shifting over to the ball side of things. I think the comment in your remarks was about still building the backstop to normal levels. Maybe if you could just talk kind of where you are relative to normal levels and then, you know, is there any missed sales, whether it's this year or maybe it's something that impacting early next year. Just trying to quantify if there's any pain points because of the lower than normal backstop.
spk08: About a year ago, we resumed production at full capacity, and that was commentary on raw materials availability. When raw material availability improved, our capacity ramped up. We're in a very good spot today. Our comment is as much about... back stock of really Pro V1, Pro V1X, and ADX. We're going to be tight over the next couple of months. We do think it will, we think we're in good enough shape where we'll have full inventories in the market that may be a little leaner than we'd like to see, but we don't anticipate outages. And we do expect that by the end of this year we'll get back to somewhat of a normal cycle. You can tell sequentially. I made the comment we shipped about a half a million dozen more Pro V1s this year than last. That, again, commentary on the health of the franchise, but also commentary on our team's ability to produce product. But I would say near term, we like where we are. We do have some allocations in place just to make sure we spread product availability fairly and broadly. We don't anticipate outages. We do anticipate field inventories will be A little bit lean, but we're going to do everything we can to avoid outages. And again, by the end of the year, we think we'd be back to more normalized levels.
spk02: Great. Thank you very much.
spk00: Thank you, JP. Operator, next question, please.
spk01: Our next question comes from Noah Zatskin with Key Corp. Please go ahead, Noah.
spk05: Hi. Thanks for taking my question. You know, I guess... Just a high-level question for me related to maintaining the guidance and noting caution around macro related to that. Historically, in terms of your brands being positioned at the premium end, what do you typically see from consumers in a recession? Do you see trade down? Do you see extended repurchase cycles? How do you think about the behavior of the avid golfer in a recession? Thanks.
spk08: Yeah, so we've been through a bunch of them over the decades, I guess, and if there's any common themes, it's our dedicated golfer, we talk about this a lot, tends to be more resilient than most, and that speaks to their passion and avidity for the game, and it also speaks to their relatively strong demographic profile. So our consumer tends to be resilient. We do not see a lot of trade down from our consumer. We see consumables hold up the best and certainly better than durables. We see sometimes equipment purchase life cycles extended a bit. And we tend to see rounds of play hold up fairly well, again, from our core consumer. If we go back to the last recessionary period, 08, 09, I think consumer spending was off macro in the range of 15%. We were down. Our top line was down. And you back out Cobra at the time, which we owned, about half that. And I think that's as much as anything commentary is. on the strength of our core consumer that really we've built our business around.
spk05: Very helpful. And just one maybe on kind of equipment retail. I think weather obviously challenging in March. Have you seen improvement or heard anecdotally improvement on the retail side moving into April, and how are you kind of thinking about retail moving through the year? Thanks.
spk08: Yeah, so I'll, and this will be a more U.S.-centric answer, just because the U.S. market is off and running, but rounds were down, I think, 0.2%, which is, in our view, very healthy, particularly when you consider California was off almost 20%, Arizona off 10-plus percent, so when you look at rounds profile, you feel pretty Good about the health of the round, given some serious weather in the West Coast, which is far more positive long term than not. The numbers we see out of Golf Data Tech, total spending in the quarter on equipment apparel was down 1%. Again, we think that holds up pretty well. That's through March. We haven't seen any deviation from that in April, either high or low. So we think it's best described as stable. So much of this, so much of what you're going to see in March, or excuse me, rather in April, is a function of when the season starts. And we're still very weather variable and weather dependent in a lot of parts of the country. You get good weather, the season starts, fittings happen, and we see an uptick. And if you get less than favorable weather, some of that activity is deferred into May. I would characterize April as really not too dissimilar from what we saw in the first three months of the year.
spk05: Very helpful. Thank you.
spk00: Thank you, Noah. Operator, next question, please.
spk01: Our next question comes from Ivan Feinsick with Tigris Financial. Ivan, please go ahead.
spk04: Thank you for taking my questions and congratulations on the great results and start to the year. Can you give me some discussion of what demographic trends you see shaping that will continue to drive increasing rounds of golf, increasing player engagement, new players coming to the game?
spk08: Thanks, Ivan. A lot of what we point to is data from the National Golf Foundation. I'll speak to some high-level demographic trends we've seen over the last handful of years. 2022 marked the fifth year in a row where the game added golfers, obviously a real positive. And over that time, the fastest growing segments were juniors and women. So we'd like the overall demographic trends in the game. I will point to also, you know, our business, I talked about the dedicated golfer a few minutes ago. You know, we point to there the 15% of players who play 40% of the rounds and spend 70% of the dollars in the game. That is our sweet spot, and that's really what we've built our businesses around. We've seen that increase commensurate with the broader increase in the marketplace. So that's some of the data that the National Golf Foundation would put out there. More anecdotally, I would say... We look at rounds and how rounds held up versus weather, and we see that as a real positive. We look at the capacity of golf out there, and in many respects, many clubs are at capacity for membership. So there's a generally full marketplace in private golf clubs in particular. the fundamental foundational trends of the game are very healthy. And again, that's U.S. commentary. When we look around the world and really to Japan and Korea, which are the second and third largest markets, we do see similar trends. Japan rounds were up, I think, 7%, 8% in the quarter. Actually check that. They were up more like low single digits in the quarter. create down a little bit and as much weather related, but that's as much commentary, um, coming off of a really strong run over the last couple of years. So if, if you look around the globe, you do see, um, the number of golfers increasing, um, rounds play really heady, healthy, and steady, uh, in the face of some, some tough weather. And, and, and at this point we think you're going to be, you're going to see some ebbs and flows based on weather, but by and large, if you look at where the game is today versus where it was five years ago, very healthy. And clubs reflect that in terms of their memberships. Public courses reflect that in terms of their rounds of play. You know, where it goes from here is the great question mark. I will say it's been our observation that the game is held up from a rounds and participation standpoint. very well given where we were a couple years ago and our belief that while folks stopped spending money on travel and vacations and new sports and had a lot of discretionary time for golf, we understand that a lot of those activities have returned. And in spite of that, we look at rounds of play being flat from historically high levels, and we see that as a real positive.
spk00: Hi, Ivan, did you have any other additional questions?
spk04: Technologies or improvements that you see in your equipment that can drive sales that, you know, as people improve the way they play, they want to continue to play, for example.
spk00: Ivan, could you repeat the question you cut out in the beginning of that? Thank you.
spk04: What kind of ongoing technological developments in equipment do you see happening that drive people to improve people's games that drive them to want to play more and then buy new clubs? Or what do you see as the catalyst for club upgrades, for example, equipment upgrades?
spk08: Yeah, and it's really twofold. One, just continued product improvements, right? We're an industry that's built around product innovation. I will add we're a heavily regulated industry in terms of distance, but in terms of innovation to make products better, we still think there are a lot of ways to do that. In our case, Ivan, and this is true with balls and clubs and even footwear to an extent, Our path forward is also predicated on a whole lot of customization and fitting activities. We know that some of the best paths for improvement for players is through better fitting experiences and make sure they're playing the very best equipment for that game. So I put that in the same category as I put equipment innovation. It's fitting innovation. and, and expanding our, our, our fitting activities. Uh, we do a whole lot of fittings today, but we know there are a lot of golfers out there who would still benefit from fitting experience again, whether it be for balls or clubs or, or, uh, or even footwear.
spk04: Thank you again. Congratulations on the great start to the year.
spk08: Thank you. Thank you. Well, thanks everybody. As always, we appreciate your interest in a Kushnit. We hope for a, uh, a nice spring season, and hopefully you all get out and play a little bit, and we look forward to talking to you after the quarter.
spk01: Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. This concludes our call, and you may now disconnect your lines.

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