Life Fitness helps bolster Brunswick earnings

Brunswick Corp. (NYSE: BC) reported net earnings of $20.5 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2002, compared with a net loss of $2.6 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago quarter.
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Bolstered by its recreation division that includes Life Fitness, Brunswick Corp. (NYSE: BC) reported net earnings of $20.5 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2002, compared with a net loss of $2.6 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago quarter. Sales rose 29 percent to $928 million from $717.8 million, and operating earnings rose to $41.1 million, versus $6.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2001.

"Life Fitness had an excellent year reporting a 15-percent increase in sales to $457 million and a more than 50 percent increase in operating earnings," said George W. Buckley, chairman and CEO of Brunswick. "This strong performance was attributable to the introduction of 40 new products during the year, increased sales to the military and regional health club chains and market share gains. Our investment in technology will continue with 50 new products slated for introduction in 2003."

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2002, earnings before the cumulative effect of accounting changes reached $103.5 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, up from $84.7 million, or 96 cents per diluted share, for 2002. Net sales were $3.7 billion, up 10 percent from $3.3 billion in 2001. Operating earnings rose 3 percent to $196.6 million, compared with $191.1 million a year earlier.

Brunswick's Recreation segment includes Life Fitness and Brunswick Bowling and Billiards. Segment sales in the fourth quarter of 2002 totaled $242.5 million, up 8 percent from $224.9 million in the same quarter a year ago; operating earnings increased 56 percent to $36.9 million, up from $23.7 million. For the year, recreation segment sales increased 9 percent to $834.4 million, and operating earnings rose 86 percent to $66.3 million.

Buckley predicted sales growth for 2003 in the recreation segment to be in the mid- to high-single digit range due to new product introductions. EPS for 2003 is estimated to be $1.40 to $1.60 -- a 32 percent increase to the mid-point range.

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