Columbia Sportswear has announced preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2012. The company now expects to report fourth quarter net sales of approximately 499.0 - 503.0 million dollars, a decline of approximately 5 percent compared with fourth quarter 2011 net sales of 526.1 million dollars. Prior fourth quarter outlook anticipated net sales growth of up to 1.5 percent.

According to the company, weather condition in North America during most of the holiday shopping period, general consumer caution and reduced retail traffic in key markets, and a more promotional environment combined to produce lower-than-expected direct-to-consumer sales, as well as higher order cancellations and fewer reorders from wholesale customers, primarily in the US. In addition, approximately one-third of the fourth quarter net sales shortfall reflected a timing shift into the first quarter of 2013 of factory-direct shipments of international distributors' Spring 2013 advance orders.

The Portland based company now expects fourth quarter gross margin to contract approximately 120 to 130 basis points, to 41.2 to 41.3 percent. Prior fourth quarter outlook anticipated gross margin contraction of 50 to 75 basis points from gross margin of 42.5 percent in last year’s fourth quarter. Consolidated inventories at December 31, 2012 are expected to be essentially equal to those at December 31, 2011.

The fourth quarter selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses are now expected to decline to approximately 158 to 162 million dollars, or approximately 31.5 percent to 32.3 percent of sales. Prior fourth quarter outlook anticipated SG&A expense of approximately 32.0 percent to 32.5 percent of sales, compared with 34.0 percent of sales, or 178.6 million dollars, in last year’s fourth quarter.

The company now expects fourth quarter operating income of approximately 47.0 to 52.0 million dollars, or approximately 9.4 percent to 10.3 percent operating margin, compared with fourth quarter 2011 operating income of 50.5 million dollars, or 9.6 percent operating margin. Prior fourth quarter outlook anticipated operating margin of 10.6 percent to 11.1 percent. The company now expects to report fourth quarter net income of between approximately 37.0 million dollars to 40.0 million dollars, including a lower than expected income tax rate. Prior outlook anticipated fourth quarter net income of approximately 44.0 million dollars, compared with net income of 36.7 million dollars for the fourth quarter of 2011.

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