Outdoor financials: Wolverine posts sixth consecutive year of record results, plus Moosejaw, Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne, Jarden, Crocs

Wolverine posts sixth consecutive year of record results, Private-equity firm buys Moosejaw, Eddie Bauer avoids restating results from accounting errors, Prana parent names two executives and declares quarterly dividend, Jarden to offer $400 million in notes, and Crocs to buy Ocean Minded sandals.
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Wolverine posts sixth consecutive year of record results
Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW) said its fourth-quarter profit rose 17 percent on strong sales of outdoor merchandise. Wolverine is the parent of Merrell and has an exclusive footwear license with Patagonia.

Wolverine said it achieved record revenue and earnings per share for its fourth quarter and 2006 fiscal year, marking its sixth consecutive year of record results.

For the three months ending Dec. 31, net income grew to $23.6 million, or $0.42 per share, from $20.4 million, or $0.36 per share, a year ago. Latest-quarter results include a tax gain of $0.02 per share from the closure of prior-year audits. Revenue climbed 6.5 percent to $341.7 million from $321 million in the 2005 period.

For the full year, Wolverine reported earnings of $83.7 million, or $1.47 per share, up from $74.5 million, or $1.27 per share, in 2005. Revenue climbed to $1.14 billion from the previous year's $1.06 billion.

The company said three of its four major branded operating groups contributed to the full-year revenue increase, and all four groups contributed to the profit increase. Wolverine's Outdoor Group set the pace, led by sales of Merrell Footwear products that posted strong double-digit revenue.

The company also confirmed its 2007 guidance, saying it expects to report full-year earnings of $1.56 to $1.62 per share on sales of $1.2 billion to $1.23 billion. Analysts are forecasting 2007 earnings of $1.62 per share on revenue of $1.21 billion.

Private-equity firm buys Moosejaw
A majority stake in Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel was acquired by Dallas-based, private-equity firm Parallel Investment Partners through recapitalization for an undisclosed sum. Financo Inc. acted as financial advisor in the sale.

Founder Robert Wolfe and his siblings, Jeffrey and Julie, currently operate the 15-year-old company. Reportedly, they will maintain a significant ownership stake in the company and continue to lead Moosejaw in their current senior management roles. Moosejaw has six retail stores in Michigan and Chicago, three websites (www.moosejaw.com, www.thejaw.com and www.thalowdown.com) and catalogs, and has been on a growth tear of late with 2006 holiday sales up nearly 70 percent over 2005 sales during the same period, according to reports. Moosejaw has also begun reselling its e-commerce management tool, UniteU, to other e-tailers, generating yet another source of revenue for the company.

Parallel Investment Partners (formerly SKM Growth Investors until August 2005) specializes in lower middle-market growth companies, and typically holds them for five to seven years. The group, with approximately $400 million in investments, is no stranger to retail. It once owned a stake in Hibbett Sporting Goods, Targus, Dollar Tree, Sneaker Stadium and more, and currently holds controlling interest in Home Organizers and Weisman Discount Home Centers.

Eddie Bauer avoids restating results from accounting errors
Eddie Bauer Holdings (Nasdaq: EBHI) said it will not need to restate financial results because of accounting errors and will move ahead with a vote to sell the company for $9.25 per share.

The company had found tax accounting errors for 2005 and earlier years and postponed its Jan. 25 special stockholder meeting as a result. Previously, the company said it did not properly reconcile the book and tax depreciation on its property and equipment related.
It said tax accounting errors for 2005 and previous years will be reported in its 2006 financial statements as a decrease to net deferred tax assets of about $12 million and an increase to goodwill of about $12 million.

The company confirmed that it will hold a special shareholders meeting on Feb. 8 to vote on the proposal to sell the company to Eddie B. Holding Corp. for $9.25 per share, or about $286 million in cash. Eddie B. Holding is owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners Inc. and Golden Gate Capital.

Separately, Eddie Bauer reported that European Union antitrust regulators have given the OK for the company's sale. It was cleared under the European Commission's simplified procedure, approving it automatically after one month if no third party lodges a complaint. The company operates stores in the United States and Canada. The takeover was approved by U.S. regulators last month.

Prana parent names two executives, declares quarterly dividend

Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ) has promoted Michael Scarpa to chief operating officer, effective immediately. In this role, he will continue to be responsible for the corporation's finance, distribution and logistics organizations, adding manufacturing, sourcing and information systems to his current duties.

Scarpa has been with the company since 1983, holding a variety of positions. The company will conduct a search for a chief financial officer, with Scarpa retaining that function until a successor is found.

Liz Claiborne followed up that announcement with the appointment of Tim Gunn as chief creative officer, effective March 5. In this position, Gunn will be responsible for attracting, retaining and developing the creative talent within the Liz Claiborne portfolio of brands, which includes Prana.

Previously, Gunn served as the chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. Since 2004, he has been appearing on the Bravo TV show, "Project Runway," serving as mentor to the show's fashion designer contestants. Later this year, Gunn will also star in his own show on the network, "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," based on his forthcoming book.

Separately, Liz Claiborne declared a regular cash dividend of about 5.63 cents per share. It will pay the dividend March 15 to shareholders of record Feb. 23.

Jarden to offer $400 million in notes
Jarden Corp. (NYSE: JAH), a maker of consumer products including Coleman and Campingaz outdoor products, said it will offer $400 million in senior notes. The senior subordinated notes are due 2017. Proceeds will be used to tender all of its 9.75 percent senior subordinated notes due 2012, to pay down outstanding debt and for general corporate purposes such as funding capital expenditures and making acquisitions.

Crocs to buy Ocean Minded sandals
Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent of the membership interest of Ocean Minded for $1.75 million in cash, plus a potential earn-out of up to $3.75 million based on Ocean Minded hitting certain earnings targets over a three-year period. Leveraging its network of retailers and diverse distribution, Crocs will look to expand the Ocean Minded brand worldwide.

Founded in 1996, Ocean Minded is a designer and manufacturer of high-quality leather and EVA-based sandals primarily for the beach, adventure and action sports markets. The company utilizes recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible.

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