Outdoor financials: Wolverine stock drops with threat of EU footwear duties, plus Keen Footwear, Cabela's, Quiksilver/Rossignol, LaCrosse

Outdoor financials: Wolverine stock drops 4.5 percent after downgrade. Richardson named new president of Keen Footwear. Cabela's FY '05 sets a company record. Quiksilver gets boost from analyst thumbs-up. LaCrosse receives loan from Portland for new headquarters.
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Wolverine stock drops 4.5 percent after downgrade
Shares of Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW), parent of Merrell, dropped $1 after an analyst downgraded the stock, saying that new European Union taxes on footwear imports will hurt the company's profit.

Jim Duffy of Thomas Weisel Partners said that EU officials plan to recommend duties of nearly 20 percent on footwear imported from China and Vietnam, which could affect shoe-makers like Wolverine. It's expected to be approved with a vote, and if it goes through, preliminary duties will be imposed by April 7, he said. Duffy downgraded the company to "peer perform" from "outperform."

"We see the opportunity to circumvent duties by either redesigning products to avoid classification in categories subject to duties or by relocating manufacturing to countries exempt from duty provision," Duffy wrote in a note to investors. "While we believe Wolverine Word Wide has taken steps toward both of these solutions, the length of the product cycle, the shortage of available production capacity in alternative countries, and the length of the manufacturing learning curve suggest these offsets will take time."

Duffy also lowered his 2006 earnings estimate to $1.35 per share from $1.39 per share, and his 2007 earnings estimates to $1.50 per share from $1.55 per share.

In midday trading on Feb. 21, Wolverine dropped 4.5 percent to $21.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Richardson named new president of Keen Footwear
Kirk Richardson has replaced Jim Van Dine as president of Keen Footwear. Richardson has worked for Nike for 27 years, most recently as general manager of Nike's outdoor business -- ACG.

Van Dine has worked at Keen since it started three years ago, but decided not to move to Portland, Ore., when the company moves there in April.

Keen's other recent executive appointments include Kris Hamper as chief financial officer, Bobbie Parisi as vice president of marketing, and Kelly Wallrich as director of design and development.

Cabela's FY '05 sets a company record
Cabela's (NYSE: CAB) fourth-quarter profit was up due to a strong performance in all three of the outdoor sporting goods retailer's product lines, it said.

Quarterly profit rose 10.5 percent to $42.5 million, or $0.64 per share, from $38.5 million, or $0.58 per share, last year. Sales jumped 16.6 percent to $675.4 million from $579.1 million in the year-ago period.

Cabela's said it had a "very strong" fourth fiscal quarter of 2005 within each of its business segments compared to 2004: direct revenue increased $26.9 million, or 7.1 percent, to $404.9 million; total retail revenue increased 40.3 percent to $240.9 million with a same-store sales decrease of 4.7 percent, which was improved over prior 2005 quarters; and financial services revenue increased 23.9 percent to $30.2 million.

For the year, total revenue for fiscal 2005 increased 15.7 percent to a company record of $1.80 billion compared to $1.56 billion in fiscal 2004. Net income for fiscal 2005 increased 11.7 percent to $72.6 million, or $1.10 per share, compared to $65.0 million, or $1.03 per share, for fiscal 2004.

Quiksilver gets boost from analyst thumbs-up
After languishing for the past six months, shares of Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK) rose 12 percent on Feb. 22 after an analyst reinforced the view that the company's integration of Rossignol was going according to plan. Its stock went up $1.56 to close at $14.80 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was heavy.

"The meeting reinforced our view that the core business is humming and the Rossignol integration proceeding on plan," said Dorothy Lakner, an analyst with CIBC World Markets, who attended Quiksilver's presentation at the MAGIC apparel trade show in Las Vegas.

Lakner gave a "sector outperformer" rating on Quiksilver shares. CIBC said that it may have a long position of less than 1 percent in Quicksilver.

Quiksilver acquired Rossignol last July for $304.3 million, in a move Quiksilver hopes will double its sales in the next several years. Company executives have told investors they plan to trim $25 million in costs within three years by streamlining Rossignol's operations.

LaCrosse receives loan from Portland for new headquarters
Having outgrown its current facilities, LaCrosse Footwear (Nasdaq: BOOT) is planning a new headquarters and distribution center in Portland. The boot company has entered into an agreement with the Portland Development Commission for a $750,000 loan and grant package to assist in building the 145,000-square-foot facility. LaCrosse received incentive funds tied to job creation and investment through the commission's Quality Jobs Program and Economic Opportunity Fund. The QJP is a loan that is forgivable over a two-year period as long as certain employment requirements are fulfilled.

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