The contraction in the sports trading-card business claimed its biggest victim yet on Jan. 25, when market leader Topps disclosed it expected to suffer an unspecified loss in the quarter ending Feb. 28. The following day, Topps stock fell 3 3/4, or 31%, to 8 1/2.

The trading-card biz has suffered from too many producers grabbing at a shrinking market. "Retailers don't know what to carry, collectors don't know what to collect," says John Belo, head of the National Football League's licensing arm.

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