Outdoor financials: Eddie Bauer Q4 same-store sales up, plus Stride Rite, Forzani

Eddie Bauer's Q4 same-store sales were up, Stride Rite posted a Q4 sales increase, and Forzani released holiday season sales figures.

Eddie Bauer Q4 same-store sales up
Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: EBHI) said fourth-quarter same-store sales grew 4.6 percent, but fell below company expectations.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 30, 2006, net merchandise sales totaled $365 million, compared to $361 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of 2006 increased 4.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005. Sales from the Company's direct channel, which includes sales from its catalogs and websites, increased by 0.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005.

William End, Eddie Bauer's chairman, said in a statement that fourth-quarter sales results were "moderately below our expectations."

For the fiscal year, net merchandise sales declined 4.5 percent, totaling $957 million in 2006 compared to $1.002 billion in fiscal 2005. Comparable store sales for fiscal 2006 declined 2.0 percent from fiscal 2005. Sales from the company's direct channel, which includes sales from its catalogs and web sites, decreased by 4.4 percent from fiscal 2005.

Eddie Bauer is in the process of being sold to investment companies, Sun Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital, for $286 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007.

Stride Rite posts Q4 sales increase
The Stride Rite Corp. (NYSE: SRR), parent of the Saucony and Hind brands, reported a 15 percent increase in fourth-quarter net sales and a 20 percent increase in year-end sales.

Net sales for the fourth quarter were $151.8 million compared to $131.6 million in the same period in the prior year. Net income for the fourth quarter totaled $600,000, or $0.02 per diluted share, compared to the net loss of $3.1 million or $0.08 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2005.

For the full year of fiscal 2006, net sales were $706.8 million versus the net sales of $588.2 million in fiscal 2005. Net income totaled $34.3 million, an increase of 40 percent from the $24.6 million reported in fiscal 2005. On a diluted basis, earnings per share were $.92 compared to $0.66 in fiscal 2005. The prior year includes 11 weeks of Saucony results from the date of acquisition, Sept. 16, 2005.

Saucony's fourth-quarter domestic sales, including Hind, were $17.9 million, up 8 percent from $16.6 million in 2005. For the year, Saucony domestic sales, including numbers from Hind, were up 436 percent to $89.2 million compared to $16.6 million the year before. Stride Rite said the sales results reflect the continued emphasis on technical running product and success in the specialty retail channel.

International sales were strong in fiscal 2006, helped significantly by the addition of Saucony, Stride Rite reported. International net sales increased 86 percent for the full year compared to fiscal 2005. Saucony sales were particularly strong in Canada and Europe, the company noted.

Forzani releases holiday season sales
The Forzani Group (TSX: FGL), Canada's largest retailer of sporting goods, said unseasonably warm weather affected holiday season results for the 10 weeks ended Jan. 7, 2007.

Corporate same-store sales were up 0.5 percent as strong sales in Western Canada were offset by decreases in Eastern-based stores, which were impacted by warm-weather conditions. In the franchise business, predominantly located in the East, same-store sales were down 8.1 percent. Overall same-store sales were down 2.5 percent.

In spite of the sales challenges posed by the weather, the company said corporate store margins continued to track ahead of the prior year in terms of both rate and overall dollars. Corporate store inventories were managed and balanced between the seasonal temperatures in the West and record warm temperatures in the East resulting in normal winter inventory levels exiting the season, it added.

The Forzani Group's retail brands include Sport Chek, Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Mart and National Sports.

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