Sporting goods suppliers are retailers around the world were worth $191.3 billion on stock exchanges at the end of 2011, just 2.7 percent higher on a weighted average basis than at the end of 2010, according to an annual study by Sporting Goods Intelligence.

The industry's stock market capitalization remained flat in terms of euros, as the dollar appreciated by 2.9 percent against the battered European currency in the course of 2011. Analysts are predicting a further decline for the euro in 2012.

On the other hand, like in previous years, the sporting goods sector again performed better than the general economy. Across all sectors and on a global basis, the capitalization of stock markets fell by 12.1 percent to $45.7 trillion, according to Bloomberg, registering the first loss in three years. The MSCI World index lost 8.8 percentage points, much less than the 42 percent decline in the global stock market that took place in 2008.

Sporting goods equities had plunged by 39.5 percent in 2008, but then they recovered in the following two years, rising by 83.7 percent in 2009 and by 36.2 percent in 2010, according to our previous studies. Our figures are based on the stock exchange quotations of the companies in the sector at the end of each year, multiplied by the number of fully diluted outstanding shares at the respective dates. They are translated into U.S. dollars at its value at the end of the year.

Our annual chart of the industry's stock market performers (see page 3) continues to show Nike at the top, with an above-average increase of 8.4 percent in its stock market value to $44.2 billion. It was again followed by Li & Fung, but this big Hong Kong-based sourcing and branded goods company suffered a 35.9 percent decrease in its value. VF Corporation appreciated by 49.9 percent, getting very close to the Chinese giant and moving from #5 to #3 in the rankings. The Adidas Group remained in fourth position with a rise of 2.3 percent to $13.6 billion, and it overtook Luxottica, which we have been running as the parent company of Oakley.

Like in 2010, retailers performed overall better than vendors, with a collective 16.6 percent rise in their stock market capitalization, led by Lululemon in the U.S. Major gains were also recorded by Foot Locker, Sports Direct International, Cabela's, Golfsmith and The Walking Company, a U.S. retailer of sports and comfort shoes. While Sports Direct's worth went up by 59.5 percent to the equivalent of $1.9 billion, the other major publicly quoted European retailers – JD Sports Fashion, JJB Sports and Blacks Leisure Group in the U.K., plus Groupe Go Sport in France – all registered major declines.

Among the vendors, suppliers specializing in sports apparel and footwear scored more or less the same, rising by 0.7 and 1.0 percent, respectively. However, the apparel sector would have been down sharply without the contribution of VF and Under Armour. Quiksilver and Billabong International, the two surfwear majors, saw their stocks dive down by 29.2 and 78.4 percent, respectively.

The score would have been largely negative in the footwear sector, too, without Nike and Adidas, which together represented 66 percent of its total stock market capitalization, as all other companies in the segment excluding Alpargatas and Stella Holdings lost value.

Like in 2010, sports equipment companies were the worst performers in the past year, as their stock market capitalization fell by 5.1 percent, and their collective score would have been worse without the positive developments at companies such as Johnson Outdoors and Head.

The regional spread of sporting goods stocks mirrored the evolution of the general economy, with a modest gain in the U.S. partly offsetting double-digit decreases in Europe and Asia. A 12.5 percent overall increase for sporting goods companies based in the Americas contrasted with declines of 1.2 percent in Europe and 24.7 percent in the Asia-Pacific area.

Across all sectors, European stocks have been dragged down in the past few months by worries about sovereign debt and by recessionary trends, with major banks suffering some of the steepest declines. Barclays has estimated that the gross domestic product dropped by 0.3 percent in the eurozone during the fourth quarter of 2011, and that it will fall by a further 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index fell by 11 percent in the last 12 months, while the MSCI Asia Pacific index went down by 18 percent. Instead, the Standard & Poor 500 index showed a gain of 0.1 percent for U.S. equities, thanks to a recovery of 11 percent in the fourth quarter, and the Dow Jones Industrial Index ended up nearly 6 percent higher than 12 months ago.

In Europe, the stock market lost 26.1 percentage points in Milan, 17.8 points in Paris, 15.4 points in Frankfurt, 13.9 points in Madrid, 8.4 points in Zurich and 5.7 points in London. Elsewhere in the more developed parts of the world, stock exchanges were down by 17.9 percent in Tokyo and by 14.9 percent in Sydney.

Cancelling previous gains, equity markets in emerging economies suffered from their dependence on the global economy for more sustained growth. Stock exchange indexes were off by 22.6 percent in Shanghai, by 24.2 percent in Moscow, by 24.2 percent in Bombay and by 18.4 percent in Rio de Janeiro. Overall the MSCI Emerging Markets index was off by 21 percent. Modest gains were only recorded in a few countries such as Indonesia and Qatar.

Click here to downlaoad the chart