Columbia 1Q revenue, profit up on increased demand

Strong demand and increased backlog orders for Columbia Sportswear's products, such as its Omni-Heat line and Mountain Hardwear brand, helped push the outdoor apparel and gear company's first-quarter 2011 results higher.

Columbia Sportswear Co. (NASDAQ:COLM) reported higher revenue and a strong profit on increased demand, particularly for its Columbia Omni-Heat line and Mountain Hardwear brand.

The Portland, Ore.-based parent company of Mountain Hardwear, Sorel and Montrail reported revenue of $333.1 million for the first quarter 2011 – up 11 percent from $300.4 million during the same period a year ago.

Columbia’s first-quarter profit jumped 38 percent to $12.8 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, compared to a profit of $9.2 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the same period in 2010.

Company officials said wholesale backlog orders reached a record $860.8 million as of March 31, 2011 -- a 19 percent increase from a year ago.

Columbia President and CEO Tim Boyle credited the positive results to product innovation and compelling marketing, such as for the company’s new Omni-Heat line. He said the company’s advance fall 2011 wholesale orders of Omni-Heat more than doubled from last year.

Still, the Boyle said the company had to “temper” its full-year 2011 forecast in response to the March 11 disasters in Japan. Looking ahead to second quarter 2011, Columbia expects revenue percentage growth of about 14 to 16 percent.

By brand, Columbia saw its revenue grow 8 percent to $288.1 million, Mountain Hardwear increased by 24 percent to $31.7 million and Sorel rose 158 percent to $10.3 million.

By segment, sportswear increased 5 percent to $154.2 million, outerwear rose 13 percent to $98.8 million, footwear climbed 18 percent to $54.4 million and accessories and equipment grew 27 percent to $25.7 million.

Inventories increased 36 percent to $303.1 million as of March 31, 2011, which company officials said they anticipated due to a larger volume of fall 2010 inventory destined for sale through the company’s retail outlet stores during the second half of 2011. Spring 2011 inventories also rose due to higher spring wholesale backlog, and expected increases of direct-to-consumer sales.

Along with the earnings report, Columbia’s board authorized an increase in the company’s quarterly dividend of $0.02 per share, or 10 percent, to $0.22 per share, payable on June 2, 2011 to shareholders of record on May 19, 2011.

--Compiled by David Clucas

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