Outdoor financials: Johnson Outdoors acquires two brands for marine electronics division, plus Deckers, Wolverine, West Marine, VF

Johnson Outdoors acquires two brands for marine electronics division, Deckers scrambles to find additional independent board member, Wolverine's Outdoor Group posts double-digit gains, West Marine reports 3 percent sales increase, and Coverage initiated on VF

Johnson Outdoors acquires two brands for marine electronics division
Johnson Outdoors (Nasdaq:JOUT) is expanding its portfolio, buying Cannon downriggers and Bottomline fishfinders from Computrol and integrating them into its marine electronics business unit. Computrol is a wholly owned subsidiary of Armstrong International, a family-owned diversified manufacturer in Three Rivers, Mich. Terms of the transaction weren't disclosed except that the brands and assets were acquired in a cash purchase.

The company said that the deal, which closed on Oct. 3, reinforces its strategic focus on acquisitions that complement its businesses, have market-leading potential and strengthen profitability.

"Our vision is to own the outdoor adventure, with a clear focus on growth by expanding our markets, our brand equities and our technology horizon through continuous innovation and targeted acquisitions," said Helen Johnson-Leipold, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Outdoors. "We invest in the future of our businesses, and by doing so help increase profitability and enhance shareholder value long-term."

Cannon is the No. 1 brand of downriggers used on motorized boats for controlled depth fishing, while Bottomline is a value brand of fishfinders which includes the portable, battery-operated "Fishin' Buddy" series. With the purchase, Johnson Outdoors now competes in five different marine electronics markets representing a combined marketplace of $350 million, the company said.

Deckers scrambles to find additional independent board member
Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Nasdaq: DECK) said it received a deficiency letter from Nasdaq indicating the company has failed to comply with the independent director listing requirement.
With the recent addition of President and CEO Angel Martinez to the board of directors, Deckers' board now has six members, three of which are independent directors. Nasdaq said that Deckers fails to comply with the independent director requirement for continued listing set forth in Marketplace Rule 4350(c)(1), which requires a listed company to have a majority of independent directors serving on its board.

Deckers said it has initiated a search for a new independent director and intends to be fully compliant as soon as possible.

Wolverine's Outdoor Group posts double-digit gains
Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW), parent of Merrell, reported third-quarter profit rose 12 percent on strong sales for all three of its major brands, including its Outdoor Group.

Quarterly profit rose to $24.6 million, or $0.42 per share, from $21.9 million, or $0.37 per share -- inline with analyst estimates of $0.41 per share on $279.3 million. Sales rose 7 percent to $279.1 million from $260.9 million.

For the third quarter, revenue rose 7 percent and operating earnings climbed about 11 percent. Earnings were helped by improvements in the gross and operating margins, while revenue performance was mixed across the brands. The Hush Puppies, Heritage, and Outdoor units were all positive, while the Wolverine business saw a slight decline in sales.

"Three of our major operating groups, the Hush Puppies Company, the Heritage Group and the Outdoor Group all posted double-digit earnings gains, and the Wolverine Footwear Group matched its third quarter 2004 performance," said Chairman and CEO Timothy O'Donovan in a statement.

Wolverine's backlog increased 19 percent during the quarter, and raised its 2005 earnings per share forecast to $1.26 to $1.28 from $1.22 to $1.27. The company also expects to post revenue of $1.05 billion to $1.06 billion. For 2006, Wolverine projects earnings of $1.38 to $1.44 per share on revenue of $1.11 billion to $1.13 billion.

Coverage on Wolverine was initiated by Prudential on Oct. 7, with a "neutral" action.

West Marine reports 3 percent sales increase
Third-quarter sales for West Marine (Nasdaq: WMAR) rose 3 percent to $188.6 million, saying Hurricane Rita had a minimal effect on sales and operations and that sales were in line with its expectations. Comparable store sales for the third quarter decreased 1.2 percent, compared to a comparable store sales decrease of 7.7 percent reported for the third quarter a year ago. Third-quarter comparable store sales by region were: Northeast, down 4.7 percent; Southeast, up 4.6 percent; and Western, down 2.4 percent.

Coverage initiated on VF
On Oct. 7, coverage was initiated by Lazard Freres on VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC), parent of The North Face and JanSport, among others. Lazard Freres gave VF a "buy" rating.

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