Fitness financials: Amer Sports' Precor division reports 3 percent increase in Q4 sales, plus Matrix Fitness, Gaiam, Sport Chalet, Wal-Mart, Costco

Fitness financials: Amer Sports' Precor division reports 3 percent increase in Q4 sales. Matrix's Q4 domestic sales up 120 percent. Gaiam subsidiary files IPO. Sport Chalet reports Q3 '08 net loss. Wal-Mart posts small rise in January sales. Costco same-store sales rise 7 percent in January.

Amer Sports' Precor division reports 3 percent increase in Q4 sales

While parent company Amer Sports posted a 15-percent decrease in fourth-quarter sales from a severe decline in wintersport equipment division sales, its Precor fitness division reported a 3-percent increase for the quarter.

Fourth-quarter sales for Amer Sports' entire company were EUR 497.1 million (USD $733.2 million) compared to EUR 581.6 million (USD $857.8 million) in last year's quarter. Profit was down 8 percent to EUR 202.2 million (USD $298.2 million) versus EUR 220.4 million (USD $325.0 million) last year.

For the quarter, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) amounted to EUR 53.7 million (USD $79.2 million) before non-recurring items -- down 23 percent from EUR 69.7 million (USD $102.8 million). Non-recurring expenses to the amount of EUR 42.7 million (USD $62.9 million) resulting from the reorganization of the wintersports equipment business were recorded for the period. Earnings per share were EUR 0.02 (USD $0.029) -- EUR 0.47 (USD $0.69) exclusive of the non-recurring items -- compared to EUR 0.65 (USD $0.95) last year.

Amer Sports 2007 net sales decreased 8 percent to EUR 1.65 billion (USD $2.43 billion) compared to EUR 1.79 billion (USD $2.64 billion) in FY '06. In local currency terms, sales were down 4 percent. FY '07 profit was EUR 664.4 million (USD $979.9 million) down 5 percent from last year's EUR 697.4 million (USD $1.02 billion).

EBIT fell to EUR 92.2 million (USD $135.9 million) -- before the non-recurring items booked in Q4 -- down 23 percent from EUR 120.2 million (USD $177.2 million) the year before. Earnings per share amounted to EUR 0.25 (USD $0.36) -- EUR 0.70 (USD $1.03) excluding the non-recurring items -- compared to EUR 0.98 (USD $1.44).

Precor's fourth-quarter sales were EUR 85.2 million (USD $125.6 million) compared to EUR 83 million (USD $122.4 million) in 2006. EBIT was up 2 percent to EUR 13.0 million (USD $19.1 million) from EUR 12.7 million (USD $18.7 million) the year before.

Amer Sports said of Precor that net sales for 2007 continued to develop favorably. For FY '07, it posted sales of EUR 291.0 million (USD $429.2 million) versus EUR 275.6 million (USD $406.4 million) in FY '06. EBIT was up 7 percent to EUR 37.2 million (USD $54.8 million) compared to EUR 34.8 million (USD $51.3 million) in 2006.

The Americas accounted for 76 percent, EMEA for 17 percent, and Asia Pacific for 7 percent of net sales. Amer said Precor's sales to fitness clubs continued its particularly strong performance, and in North America, sales grew faster than the market.

Also in 2007, Precor expanded its Woodinville, Wash., headquarters and manufacturing campus with the addition of a 95,000-square-foot operations facility. Precor now employs more than 550 at the five-building, 270,000-square-foot campus and nearby distribution facility. Precor also operates a Valencia, Calif., manufacturing facility and a number of offices internationally.

For 2008, Amer Sports predicts Precor will continue to grow faster than the fitness market boosted by new products, as well as positioning both in the commercial and consumer markets. However, it added, economic development in North America remains a factor of uncertainty in the outlook.

Amer Sports 2008 net sales are expected to increase approximately 5 percent in local currencies. EBIT is estimated to amount to EUR 100 million to EUR 130 million (USD $147.4 million to $191.7 million), with earnings per share coming in at EUR 0.75 to 1.00 (USD $1.10 to $1.47).

Amer Sports' board proposed a dividend of EUR 0.50 (USD $0.73) be paid per share.

(Conversion of Euros into U.S. dollars is for information only, is not necessarily relative to earnings, and is based on the currency rate as of Feb. 6.)

Matrix's Q4 domestic sales up 120 percent

Matrix Fitness Systems said its U.S. sales for the fourth quarter increased by 120 percent over the corresponding 2006 period, and worldwide sales grew by 62 percent -- all boosted by the expansion of its commercial sales team and forming key partnerships.

Overall, Matrix's 2007 domestic sales increased 102 percent, and global sales grew by 58 percent. The company said that marks the third consecutive year that it has attained triple-digit percentage growth in U.S. sales.

Matrix added that its global growth shows that its commercial sales and operations teams throughout Asia, Europe, North America and South America continue to gain momentum, and it expects the company's sales to keep growing.

In 2008, the company said it plans to introduce several new products and expects its growth to continue.

Gaiam subsidiary files IPO

Gaiam (Nasdaq: GAIA) shares rose Feb. 7 as the company filed a $58 million initial public offering for its Real Goods Solar installation business.

Based in Broomfield, Colo., Real Goods Solar, a residential solar energy integrator that ranks No. 1 in California, plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol RSOL.

The company had adjusted net income of $491,000 on $33 million in revenue in 2007, compared to $250,000 in net income on $17 million in revenue in the year-ago period. The company has been around since 1978 and brought solar energy to more than 30,000 homes, according to its IPO filing.

On Feb. 7, Gaiam shares jumped $1.89, or 9 percent, to end at $23.89 as it closed in on a market cap of $500 million.

Sport Chalet reports Q3 '08 net loss

For its third fiscal quarter ended Dec. 30, 2007, Sport Chalet (Nasdaq: SPCHA and SPCHB) said sales increased 1.6 percent, negatively impacted by soft macroeconomic trends as well as warm weather and wildfires in the company's core Southern California market.

Sales were $116.6 million for the FY '08 third quarter compared to $114.7 million for the third quarter of 2007. The company noted that 10 new stores not included in same-store sales contributed $9.5 million in sales for the quarter while same-store sales decreased 6.9 percent.

Gross profit as a percent of sales was 30.2 percent compared to 32.5 percent for the third quarter of last year. The decline was primarily from increased rent and more promotional activity.

Selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) as a percent of sales increased to 26.2 percent from 23.9 percent last year, reflecting higher expenses as the company's newer stores ramp up as well as reduced leverage from lower same-store sales.

Sport Chalet also recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $2.1 million pre-tax, or $0.09 per diluted share, in relation to certain California stores. Including the non-cash impairment charge, net loss for the third quarter of 2008 was $682,000, or $0.05 per diluted share. Excluding the non-cash impairment charge, net income for the third quarter of 2008 was $574,000, or $0.04 per diluted share, compared to a net income of $4.0 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, for the third quarter last year.

The company added that it expects full fiscal year net sales to increase moderately over fiscal 2007, while comparable store sales are expected to decline approximately 2 percent to 4 percent. Excluding the non-cash impairment charge of $0.09 per diluted share recorded in the third quarter of fiscal 2008, the company anticipates reporting a slight net loss for 2008.

Additionally, Sport Chalet anticipates opening three to four new stores during the year. The new stores will be focused on adding density to current markets, namely California and Arizona.

It will also complete the relocation of its flagship La Canada Flintridge store in the second half of calendar 2008. It's also relocating four small specialty stores, which previously served the La Canada Flintridge market into a single, 45,000-square-feet store in the La Canada Flintridge Town Center.

Wal-Mart posts small rise in January sales

January same-store sales for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) rose 0.5 percent, missing expectations, as fewer customers than expected cashed in gift cards -- and many who did used them for food and basics instead of discretionary items.

For the four weeks ended Feb. 1, the company said same-store sales rose 0.2 percent at Wal-Mart stores and 2.1 percent at Sam's Club, excluding fuel. Including fuel, Sam's Club same-store sales rose 4.9 percent.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected same-store sales to rise 2 percent, including a 2 percent rise at Wal-Mart and a 2.6 percent rise at Sam's Club.

Total sales for the month rose 8 percent to $27.28 billion, from $25.29 billion last year.

Wal-Mart said it expects same-store sales to be flat to up 2 percent in February, and reaffirmed guidance of 99 cents to $1.03 per share from continuing operations in the fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts expect profit of $1.02 per share.

Costco same-store sales rise 7 percent in January

Costco (Nasdaq: COST) said same-store sales rose 7 percent in January, lead by a strong performance in overseas markets. Same-stores sales rose 5 percent in the U.S. and 19 percent in international markets.

Total sales for the four weeks ended Feb. 3 increased 11 percent to $5.11 billion from $4.62 billion a year earlier.

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