Earthkeepers Drives Timberland’s Momentum

Analysts are upbeat on Timberland’s momentum for 2011, as sales growth is expected to be in the high single digits for the first half.

“Timberland’s backlog is up 19 percent at the end of the fourth quarter. The increase is an indicator that [its] business is improving, as this is the first increase in year-end backlog since 2004,” said Mitch Kummetz, analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co.

The company is “clearly experiencing momentum behind its ‘big ideas,’ namely Earthkeepers, and we would expect this to continue through fiscal year 2011,” Kummetz added.

Looking ahead, Timberland President and CEO Jeffrey Swartz said in a call with analysts Thursday that the firm is “fighting very hard to extend this result, including in the second half, where we don’t have orders yet, although they’re beginning to accumulate. We’re going to fight [for] a much higher backlog result in the second half.”

By segment, footwear performed the best in the quarter across all regions, with sales surging 31 percent to $358.8 million, driven particularly by the men’s market. By comparison, apparel and accessories revenue increased 17 percent to $125.1 million, led by strength in Timberland apparel sales in Asia.

Men’s footwear also buoyed European and North American sales, which increased 32 percent and 17 percent respectively. Asian sales grew the most, surging 59 percent to total $69.6 million.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, the Stratham, N.H.-based firm earned a net income of $42.1 million, or 82 cents a share, compared with $22.3 million, or 40 cents, the same period a year ago.  

While revenue climbed 28 percent on a constant dollar basis to $491.1 million, reflecting growth across North America, Europe and Asia, gross margin fell about 200 basis points to 48.6 percent due to pressure from higher input costs and freight expenses.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 51 cents on revenue of $411.6 million, as polled by Yahoo Finance.

For the full year, Timberland earned $1.82 per share, an 80 percent increase over $1.01 earned in 2009. Revenue was $1.43 billion, up 11 percent over 2009.  

Timberland ended the quarter with $272.2 million in cash and no debt.

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