For the three months ended Jan. 3, net income slid 5.8 percent to $24.1 million from $25.6 million a year ago. Earnings per diluted share were flat at 49 cents, ahead of the 45 cents analysts were expecting.
Sales fell 3.2 percent to $346.1 million from $357.4 million, as currency fluctuations subtracted 3.3 percent from the top line.
Inventories at the end of the quarter were 18.6 percent higher than a year ago, an increase the company attributed to a strategic decision to buy goods prior to 2009 price increases, higher product costs and a calendar shift.
For all of 2008, earnings inched up 3.2 percent to $95.8 million, or $1.90 a diluted share, from $92.9 million, or $1.70, in 2007. Sales rose 1.8 percent to $1.22 billion from $1.2 billion.
Given the tough economy, Wolverine said it expects profits to fall to 2007 levels or lower this year.
The Rockford, Mich.-based firm predicted 2009 net income of $1.50 to $1.70 a diluted share, excluding the impact of ongoing restructuring efforts. Sales are slated to range from down 5 percent to up 1.6 percent, coming in between $1.16 billion to $1.24 billion on a constant-currency basis.