Merrell, Saucony Lead the Way for Wolverine Even as Overall Sales Fall Short of Expectations

Wolverine World Wide Inc. said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings matched projections, but sales missed estimates.

For the three months ended April 3, the Rockford, Mich.-based company posted adjusted earnings of 40 cents per share — in line with Wall Street’s expectations — versus the prior year’s adjusted earnings of 28 cents per share. Revenues rose 16.3% to $510.7 million, compared with analysts’ expectations of $511.8 million.

As of 9:00 a.m. ET, WWW shares were down about 4% to $41.00. The drop comes in tandem with a broader selloff on the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recording a more than 100-point slump in early trading.

Still, chairman and CEO Blake Krueger was optimistic about the year ahead. In a statement, he said, “We believe 2021 will be a breakthrough year for the company, and our first-quarter performance was an excellent start.”

By brand, sales at Merrell improved nearly 25%, while Saucony surged close to 60%. (The two labels also stood out in the company’s fourth-quarter financial report as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to drive the purchases of more athletic and casual styles.) Wolverine’s investment in its digital business also helped drive e-commerce growth of 83.6%.

“Our brands are well positioned in trending, performance-oriented product categories like running, hiking and work — and their momentum remains strong,” Krueger added. “We anticipate growth to continue to accelerate moving forward.”

Like many retailers, Wolverine indicated that it had experienced supply chain obstacles related to port congestions and subsequent merchandise delays. But, according to SVP and CFO Mike Stornant, the group’s core inventory levels have continued to increase in the second quarter.

“We expect to be well positioned to chase upside opportunities later in the year, giving us confidence to raise our outlook for the year,” he added.

For the 2021 fiscal year, Wolverine projected revenues in the range of $2.24 billion to $2.3 billion — a 25% to 28% gain from the prior year and up $50 million from its outlook provided in February. The anticipated figure also exceeds 2019 revenues at the high end of the range. Adjusted earnings per share are forecasted to be in the range of $1.95 to $2.10.

What’s more, the company is still targeting $500 million in owned e-commerce revenues — more than double 2019 levels.

Access exclusive content