Outdoor financials: Mammut's U.S.-based division reports sales growth of 25 percent, plus Gander, Kellwood, Cabela's, U.S. retail sales, Rocky, VF Corp., Eddie Bauer

Outdoor financials: Mammut's U.S.-based division reports sales growth of 25 percent. Gander shares fall with lowered FY2004 estimates. J.P. Morgan downgrades Kellwood to "underweight." Cabela's gets the thumbs-up from analysts. Retail sales up 1.2 percent in December. Rocky announces management position changes. VF Corp. names new VP of strategy. Spiegel renews possible sale of Eddie Bauer.
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Mammut's U.S.-based division reports sales growth of 25 percent
Mammut Sports Group Inc., formerly Climb High, the U.S. distributor of the Mammut, Raichle, Ajungilak and ToKo brands, recently reported 25-percent growth in the Mammut brand for 2004 compared to 2003. The company tells SNEWS® that sales growth for harnesses and slings was 87 percent, apparel 35 percent, and Barryvox 45 percent. Based on preseason orders, Mammut also reports it expects 2005 to be very good for the company's new alpine pack line. Raichle and ToKo, new to the Mammut line in 2004, cannot report sales growth percentages, but Mammut tells us that Toko sales exceeded projections, and progress is being made to reestablish Raichle with specialty retailers. The Mammut Sports Group now includes Ajungilak of Norway, billed as the world's oldest sleeping bag and insulation manufacturer (www.ajungilak.no), Raichle Swiss quality outdoor footwear (www.raichle.com), and ToKo wax and care products (www.toko.com). More information about Mammut brand alpine apparel and gear is available online at www.mammutusa.com.

Gander shares fall with lowered FY2004 estimates
Shares of Gander Mountain dropped after the retailer told investors its fiscal 2004 earnings will come in below expectations as sales weakened last month due to unseasonably warm weather. Gander expects to report pretax income in the range of $2 million to $4 million, down from a prior guidance of $8 million to $13 million. This compares to pretax income of $1.5 million during fiscal 2003. Analysts are expecting the company to report pretax income of $7.78 million and earnings per share of 35 cents. Gander said it expects comparable-store sales in 2004 to fall 2 percent to 3 percent. The previous year's comparable-store sales increased 11.5 percent. Total revenue for 2004 is expected to be in the range of $640 million to $645 million, an increase of about 31 percent from last year's $489 million. Shares of Gander Mountain on Nasdaq fell $1.52, or 13.5 percent, to $9.77 in morning trade on Jan. 14. The stock traded below its 52-week low of $10.50 hit last December, and is well under its high of $26.25 realized on April 28.

J.P. Morgan downgrades Kellwood to "underweight"
Kellwood Co., parent of Sierra Designs, Kelty and Wenzel, was downgraded to "underweight" from "neutral" by J.P. Morgan Securities, which cited risks to earnings. Shares of Kellwood (KWD) were down 22 cents to $31.78 in recent trading. One analyst maintained a fiscal 2004 earnings outlook at $2.75 a share and fiscal 2005 estimate at $3 a share -- 1 cent and 7 cents below the consensus view, respectively. The analyst said the concern revolves around Kellwood's involvement in low-end popular apparel which is experiencing weak trends at retail. Also, the end of apparel quotas on Jan. 1 will likely continue to eliminate private-label business opportunities, creating a drag on sales.

In other news: In June 2004, Kellwood issued $200 million of 3.50 percent Convertible Senior Debentures due 2034 in a private placement transaction. The company said that a registration statement registering for resale of these debentures was declared effective by the SEC on Jan. 14. The registration statement relates to the resale by selling security-holders of Kellwood's debentures and the common stock issuable upon conversion of the debentures. Kellwood will not receive any proceeds from the resale by the selling security-holders of the debentures or the shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of the debentures. The CUSIP number for the registered debentures is: 488044 AF 5.

Cabela's gets the thumbs-up from analysts

Cabela's (NYSE: CAB) said it is comfortable with the range of analysts' revenue and earnings per share estimates for its fourth quarter and FY 2004. The company said results will be "closer to the high end" of analysts' estimates, which on average are 53 cents a share in the fourth quarter and 95 cents a share in the full year. Analysts expect revenue of $570.6 million in the fourth quarter and $1.55 billion in the full year. "Our multi-channel retail strategy, which gives us a nationwide presence, has again proven to be resilient and will continue to be the backbone of our success. Furthermore, we are particularly pleased with the sales results in our direct business. We expect direct sales growth for the fourth quarter to be the highest growth we have seen all year, due in part to additional promotions we ran during the quarter," said Cabela's President and CEO Dennis Highby.

Retail sales up 1.2 percent in December
On Jan. 13, the Commerce Department estimated that retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent in December. Excluding a 4.3 percent rise in auto sales, retail sales gained 0.3 percent, as expected. The total sales figure was slightly ahead of expectations for an increase of 0.9 percent. It was the biggest gain in sales since September's 1.6 percent rise. Sales in December were up 8.7 percent from December 2003. Sales in 2004 increased 8 percent from 2003, the biggest annual increase since 1999.

Rocky announces management position changes
Rocky Shoes and Boots Inc. has appointed COO David Sharp to the additional role of president, while CFO James McDonald will also be executive vice president and treasurer. Sharp succeeds Mike Brooks, who will remain chairman and CEO. Sharp has served as COO since April 2002, and joined the company in June 2000 as vice president of marketing and manufacturing operations. McDonald joined the company as vice president and CFO in June 2001. Both previously worked at divisions of H.H. Brown Shoe Co.

VF Corp. names new VP of strategy
VF Corp. has named Stephen Dull to the newly created position of vice president - strategy, reporting to CEO Mackey McDonald. Dull has also been named a member of VF's Operating Committee. His responsibilities will include the identification of long-term strategic growth initiatives and brand development. He has held senior positions at both Accenture and McKinsey & Company, where he worked with numerous Fortune 50 clients on brand building, business development and marketing strategy.

Spiegel renews possible sale of Eddie Bauer
After unofficially pulling it off the block in November, bankrupt retailer Spiegel Inc. is once again considering a possible sale of its Eddie Bauer unit and reportedly has reopened preliminary discussions with selective potential bidders. One possible suitor is VF Corp., which has renewed its interest in buying Eddie Bauer but has not yet decided whether it will make a bid for the company. An unidentified private equity firm was brought in to conduct due diligence on the unit before Christmas, reports say.

For more information about these companies or their financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.

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