Ugg Leads Deckers to Solid Q1

Strong consumer demand for the company’s Ugg brand boosted Deckers Outdoor Corp.’s first-quarter earnings, while its Teva and Simple labels suffered amid the weak retail environment.

After reporting a solid quarter late Thursday, the Goleta, Calif.-based firm said it expected diluted losses per share of 10 to 15 cents, in part due to the shifting of marketing costs accrued during the first quarter into the second.

For the quarter ended March 31, earnings increased to $12.3 million, or 93 cents a diluted share, up from $11.1 million, or 86 cents, for the same year-ago period.

Net sales during the quarter increased 37.6 percent to $134.2 million, versus $97.5 million for the first quarter of 2008.

“We are very pleased to have begun the new fiscal year with strong results,” President, Chairman and CEO Angel Martinez said during a conference call with investors and analysts. “While there are a lot of indications that 2009 is going to be a challenging year for the world economy, we delivered another very strong performance that once again outpaced expectations.”

As before, Ugg proved to be the company’s star performer, with a 66.9 percent increase in net sales to $91.4 million, compared with $54.8 million for the year-ago period. Meanwhile, lower pre-bookings and the bankruptcy filings of three wholesale accounts hampered Teva sales, which declined to $35.6 million from $37.7 million last year. Similarly, sales of the company’s Simple brand decreased 13 percent to $4.4 million from $5.1 million, due to order cancellations, a lower rate of reorders and the termination of the brand’s distributor in Japan.

For the full year, the company expects diluted earnings per share to be flat or up slightly from the $7.27 it reported in 2008.

On Thursday, the company’s stock closed at $63.80.

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