Outdoor financials: Wolverine's Q3 profit up 6.1 percent on higher sales, plus Columbia, Crocs, Johnson Outdoors, West Marine

Wolverine's Q3 profit up 6.1 percent on higher sales, Brokerage cuts rating after Columbia footwear VP resigns, Crocs acquires Jibbitz, Johnson Outdoors buys Lendal, and West Marine 3Q same-store sales rise.

Wolverine's Q3 profit up 6.1 percent on higher sales
Marking its 17th consecutive quarter of record revenue and earnings per share, Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW) said that higher sales drove third-quarter profit up 6.1 percent. The company also boosted its full-year outlook, citing the quarterly results and increased backlog. Wolverine is the parent of the Merrell and Sebago brands, among others.

Net income rose to $26.1 million, or $0.46 per share, from $24.6 million, or $0.42 per share, during the same period last year. The latest quarter includes $0.03 per share of investment spending for Patagonia Footwear and Merrell Apparel, and stock incentive costs, the company said.

Quarterly revenue increased 7.1 percent to $298.9 million from $279.1 million in the prior-year period.

"Three of our four major operating groups, the Hush Puppies Company, the Heritage Brands Group and the Outdoor Group, all posted revenue and earnings gains in the quarter, and the Wolverine Footwear Group experienced a decline principally due to the planned reduction in the Bates military business," Timothy O'Donovan, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Also, the company's international businesses contributed significantly to the quarter's revenue increase, particularly in Europe, where the Caterpillar, Hush Puppies, Merrell, and Sebago brands all posted revenue gains.

The company's footwear order backlog grew almost 6 percent at the end of the quarter.

Wolverine said it now anticipates full-year earnings between $1.41 and $1.44 per share, up from prior guidance of $1.38 to $1.42 per share. The company maintained a sales outlook in the range of $1.12 billion to $1.14 billion.

Wolverine also forecast fiscal 2007 earnings of $1.56 to $1.62 per share on sales of $1.2 billion to $1.23 billion.

Brokerage cuts rating after Columbia footwear VP resigns
Citigroup downgraded Columbia Sportswear (Nasdaq: COLM) to "hold" and cut its price target to $56, following the resignation of its vice president of footwear. Earlier, the brokerage had a "buy" rating on the company and a price target of $64 on its shares.

The brokerage said Brad Gebhard, after only one year with the company, made sourcing and product line management changes during his short tenure, many of which improved the overall footwear category for Columbia.

Citigroup said in a client note that although the footwear section accounts for only 18 percent of Columbia's total revenue, management has been focusing on this business as a long-term growth driver and the resignation of Gebhard creates a fair amount of uncertainty.

Crocs acquires Jibbitz
Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) has entered into an agreement to buy Jibbitz LLC, a family-run business that makes customized versions of Crocs' brand footwear, for $10 million. Crocs also said it would pay up to an additional $10 million if Jibbitz meets certain performance targets.

Crocs and Jibbitz also struck an endorsement deal, under which Crocs will endorse Jibbitz worldwide and Jibbitz gains access to Crocs' distribution and retail network. Jibbitz already features over 300 different designs being sold through 4,000 retail accounts both in the United States and Europe.

The acquisition is scheduled to close in December, with the endorsement deal effective immediately. Jibbitz will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Crocs following the closing and founders Rich and Sheri Schmelzer will remain with Jibbitz as president and chief design officer, respectively.

Johnson Outdoors buys Lendal
Johnson Outdoors (Nasdaq: JOUT) has acquired paddlemaker Lendal from founders and owners, Alistair and Marianne Wilson. The transaction closed Oct. 3. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Lendal, located in Scotland, will be integrated within the Johnson Outdoors paddle sport operations, which include Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Necky, Carlisle and Extrasport. Johnson Outdoors said the acquisition is expected to add to earnings in 2008, due to one-time integration costs this year.

West Marine 3Q same-store sales rise
For the third quarter, West Marine (Nasdaq: WMAR) reported a 2.4 percent increase in same-store sales. In the year-ago period, the company saw same-store sales fall 1.2 percent. Total sales for the quarter rose 3.7 percent to $195.6 million from $188.6 million last year.

For the year to date, West Marine said same-store sales rose 2.8 percent, compared with a drop of 3.5 percent last year. Total sales for the year so far increased 6 percent to $523.8 million, despite sales in the company's Port Supply wholesale division dropping 11.2 percent.

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