LaCrosse, Rocky Improve in Q1

LaCrosse Footwear Inc. and Rocky Brands Inc. each reported improved first-quarter results Thursday at the close of the stock markets.

Portland, Ore.-based LaCrosse swung to a profit from a loss the prior year. The company said first-quarter earnings totaled $1.7 million, or 25 cents a diluted share, which compared with a loss of $692,000, or 11 cents, a year ago.

Net sales were $34.2 million, up from $25.9 million a year ago. Sales in the workboot market jumped 38 percent to $26.3 million, while outdoor market sales increased 15 percent to $7.9 million.

“We’re very pleased with our strong sales and earnings growth in the first quarter of 2010, driven by increased demand across our different channels and markets,” said Joseph Schneider, president and CEO of LaCrosse, in a written statement. “We saw very strong demand from various branches of the U.S. government due to the continued strengthening of our customer relationships throughout the government channel and our strong execution in exceeding their delivery timetables. We also saw much stronger at-once demand from our wholesale channel partners during the first quarter, reflecting the improved consumer spending environment and success of our core products.”

Rocky Brands, meanwhile, reported a first quarter loss of $561,000, or 10 cents, compared with a loss of $1.1 million, or 20 cents, in the prior year.

Net sales rose to $56.1 million from $50.1 million a year ago. Wholesale revenues advanced 5 percent to $37.9 million, while retail sales declined slightly to $12.9 million from $13.7 million.

“Our first-quarter results were above internal and external projections driven by higher sales in our wholesale and military segments combined with improved operating expense leverage,” said Mike Brooks, Rocky chairman and CEO, in a written statement. “With regard to our bottom line, the seasonality of our business makes it difficult to realize positive earnings during the first quarter, which is typically our lowest volume sales quarter. However, we are confident that the steps we have taken to right size both our wholesale and retail platforms, combined with our initiatives aimed at expanding revenues will result in improved profitability year-over-year during the remainder of this year.”

Nelsonville, Ohio-based Rocky also said Thursday that its Dickies footwear licensing partnership with Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. will end effective Jan. 1, 2011. The decision was mutual between the two firms.

Rocky has been the exclusive licensee of Dickies footwear since January 2005 when it acquired EJ Footwear. Dickies made up 4 percent of Rocky’s sales in 2009.

“We have enjoyed partnering with Dickies to create top quality, value-priced footwear for the American worker,” Brooks said in a separate statement. “With their acquisition of Kodiak Group Holdings in 2008, a Canadian-based apparel and footwear manufacturer, we anticipated it would be difficult for us to retain the Dickies footwear license beyond 2010, and we have been taking steps to replace that business beginning next year.”

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