MLB Announces Multi-Year Partnership with Hankook Tires

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MLB has introduced Hankook Tire as the Official Tire of Major League Baseball, in both the United States and Korea. The multi-year sponsorship agreement will provide Hankook with exposure across MLB’s media assets (i.e. MLB Network, MLB.com, social) and in-park at “jewel events” like the ASG. Virtual ads behind the plate during post-season broadcasts will also help the tire manufacturer achieve its goal of “reaching millions of baseball fans not only in the U.S. but around the world.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Hankook becomes the 6th (7th overall) publicly traded company (or subsidiary of a publicly traded equity) to partner with MLB since January.

Howie Long-Short: Hankook Tires, the 7th largest tire company in the world (based on sales), trades on the South Korea Stock Exchange under the symbol (KRX: 161390). The company reported FY17 sales increased +2.9% YoY (attributing the growth to sales of over 17-inch high tires), but the rising cost of raw materials drove operating profit down -28% YoY (to $701 million). In 2018, the company will look to position itself as a “premium brand”; with plans to expand sales of high-inch tires in major markets and to supply OE tires for new models of major high-end auto brands.

For reference purposes, the other 5 MLB partners to have signed on in 2018, that you can invest in are:

  • Kingsford, a subsidiary of The Chlorox Company (CLX)
  • Netspend, a subsidiary of Total System Services or TSYS (TSS)
  • Snapple, a subsidiary of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS)
  • Supercuts, a subsidiary of Regis Corporation (RGS)
  • and Mitel Networks (MITL)

Fan Marino: All 30 teams in MLB were scheduled to play today, Opening Day (the earliest start date ever), for the first time since 1968; but, “impending inclement weather” in Cincinnati is going to prevent that from happening. The Reds/Nationals game (Bailey vs. Scherzer) scheduled for 4:10p, has been postponed until tomorrow (Friday 3.30). The rainout is particularly notable as Cincinnati hosted the “opener of Openers” every year (except 2, see below) between 1876-1989.

Fun Fact: Only 3x in Reds history has the team not opened at home. In 1877 and 1966 due to rain and in 1990 when a lockout forced the team to open in Houston.

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MLB Implements a Unified Communications System, Will Reduce Sign Stealing

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Major League Baseball has announced a partnership with Mitel (MITL) to bring a unified communications system to all 30 MLB parks. The private, secure connections will be implemented within dugouts, bullpens, video review rooms and press boxes across the league, in time for Opening Day ’18. The new system will help MLB ensure its teams remain in compliance with all league rules and regulations (see Fan below). The multi-year agreement also makes MITL the league’s presenting sponsor of instant-replay reviews and the Official Business, Technology and Communications Partner of MLB.

Howie Long-Short: Mitel Networks Corp. (MITL), a Canadian telecom company, released Q4 ’17 earnings late last week. The company reported Q4 ‘17 revenue increased 37% YOY (to $355.9 million), with CEO Rich McBee crediting “ongoing customer adoption of Mitel cloud solutions (revenue +158% YOY) combined with continued solid revenue from our on-site business” for driving the strong performance. On February 12th, the company surpassed 1 million users for its service provider cloud solutions; becoming the 2nd largest (defined by market share) Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) company worldwide in the process.

Fan Marino: The league required a unified system with recording and monitoring functionality, because teams (see: Red Sox) were using technology to steal signs (against the rules). No longer will a team member watching video in the replay room, be able to phone in signals they’ve stolen. They’ll now be forced to jog to the dugout, convey the stolen signals to a runner on 2nd base; who will then relay them back to the hitter. While certainly not a fool proof solution, the new technology does make cheating more difficult.

Fun Fact: Every MLB team will play on Opening Day (March 29th) for the first time since 1968.

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