Wolverine Q4 Profit Slides but Beats Estimates

Wolverine Worldwide Inc. beat estimates in the fourth quarter, although profit slipped.

For the period ended Dec. 31, the Rockford, Mich.-based firm earned 47 cents a share, down 9.6 percent from 52 cents a year ago.  Analysts were expecting 45 cents, as polled by Yahoo Finance, and Wolverine’s shares were trading up 0.6 percent Monday morning.

Revenue advanced 5.6 percent to $406.5 million, slower than the 22.2 percent growth it saw in 2011 over 2010.

“Fourth-quarter revenue was impacted by several factors, including soft at-once orders driven by both the relatively mild fall across most of the U.S. and Europe, and retailers focusing on keeping inventories lean,” Don Grimes, SVP and CFO of Wolverine, said in a call with analysts. “Additionally, macroeconomic concerns in Europe, driven by all the things we read about on a daily basis, contributed to the softer retail environment, especially in U.K.”

Income for the full year was $123.3 million, or $2.48 a share, a 17.5 percent increase from $104.5 million, or $2.11, a year ago. Full-year sales advanced 12.9 percent to total $1.4 billion.

Wolverine maintained its gross margin, at 39.5 percent, thanks in part to the successful higher-margin Merrell Barefoot collection. That prompted Blake Krueger, chairman, president and CEO of Wolverine, to take an upbeat tone regarding 2012.

“Our gains in 2011 were mostly achieved in the U.S. market, but the minimal [trend is] just now beginning to gain traction in many international markets. And in many of these markets, Merrell Barefoot is the first entrant. For the first year, the Merrell brand achieved strong double-digit growth in every region of the world as new performance, casual and boot product offerings continue to resonate with global consumers,” Krueger said in the investor call.

For full-year 2012, Wolverine expects to earn between $2.60 and $2.70 a share, representing year-over-year growth of about 4.8 percent to 8.9 percent. Revenue is estimated to advance between 5.4 percent and 8.2 percent, to reach $1.49 billion to $1.53 billion.

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