Nautilus focuses on new strengths

New fitness machine part of bid to offer lower-priced items

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter



Nautilus Inc. has released its first strength machine in more than five years — the Bowflex BodyTower — in a continuing bid to offer lower-priced fitness products to consumers.

“The BodyTower uniquely focuses on strength training through muscle stability using body weight,” Nathan Roe, director of marketing for the Vancouver-based maker of fitness equipment, said in a news release this week. “And, we’re doing it at a value price point.”

Release of the new fitness device provides another sign of renewed vigor on the part of the company, which also has shored up its financial situation as of late.

Nautilus is selling the BodyTower by way of multiple retail and online channels, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, which pegs the tower’s price at $299.99 on its website. By contrast, other products designed and built by Nautilus, including its TreadClimber exercise machine, have ranged into several-thousand-dollar territory.

Historically, Nautilus’ sales have depended on consumers willing and able to open their wallets or take on debt to buy the company’s costly fitness equipment.

The BodyTower — which features an adjustable bar that enables people to choose the intensity and variety of a workout — marks yet another move by the company to introduce less-pricey fitness machines and to reach more consumers. In October, for example, the company rolled out its first new type of fitness equipment in several years, offering the CoreBody Reformer — a T-shaped device combining Pilates, dance and yoga — primarily to women ages 25 to 55.

That device’s price at the time? $279, including accessories.

A credit ‘shield’

Last month, during Nautilus’ fourth-quarter earnings conference call, the company’s chief operating officer, Bill McMahon, said that while the company’s credit-approval rates have improved, lower-priced products help “shield us against tighter credit in economically difficult times.”

The company has also said that it believes it will benefit over the long run as America’s population ages and as a growing number of retiring baby boomers work to stay fit.

In fact, more than 45 million baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1964) “enjoy intense perspiration at gyms, health clubs or in their home gyms,” according to a report issued this month by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.

Nautilus reported a profit of roughly $3.2 million for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, or 10 cents per share. The company broke even in 2010’s fourth quarter.

For all of 2011, Nautilus posted a profit of $1.4 million. By contrast, the company saw a net loss of $22.8 million for all of 2010.

Nautilus had reported annual losses every year since 2006 until the first quarter of 2011, when it posted a profit of $1.6 million.

As it has climbed back to profitability, the publicly traded company also has repaired its relationship with the New York Stock Exchange. Last month, Nautilus said it regained compliance with the NYSE’s listing rules by raising its market capitalization — the total value of all of the company’s stock — to meet the exchange’s minimum standards.

As of Thursday, Nautilus’ market cap was $79.94 million.

Founded in 1986, the company — which employs 320 people — develops and sells fitness equipment and accessories. Its brand names include Nautilus, Bowflex and Schwinn Fitness.

Nautilus stock, which trades as NLS, closed at $2.60 per share Thursday — unchanged from the previous day’s close. The company’s shares have traded between $1.32 and $3.45 in the past 52 weeks.

Don't Do Stupid Stuff Mugs