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Outdoor financials: Dick's earnings rise 57 percent, plus Crocs, Amer Sports, Hibbett Sports, Wellman, VF

Dick's earnings rise 57 percent, Crocs shareholders allege executives misled investors about operations, Amer Sports reorganizes winter and outdoor business, Hibbett Sports earnings down 21 percent and hits new two-year low, Wellman raises price of polyester staple fiber, and VF names director of India venture.

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Dick’s earnings rise 57 percent

Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) said third-quarter earnings rose 57 percent due to growing sales at new stores and the acquisition of Golf Galaxy.

Net income rose to $12.2 million, or $0.10 per share, from $7.8 million, or $0.07 per share, during same period a year ago.

Sales rose to $838.8 million during the quarter, an 18 percent increase from $708.3 million during the same period a year ago.

Same-store sales decreased 2.5 percent — or a decrease of 1.0 percent adjusting for the shifted retail calendar. The company said same-store sales at Dick’s stores were in-line with its guidance and compared to an 8.9 percent increase in Q3 last year.

Net interest expense during the quarter fell 34 percent to $1.73 million.

The company said it also received a boost in sales and earnings in the fiscal quarter from the acquisition of Golf Galaxy. It closed on the acquisition in February, so quarterly earnings include sales and earnings from the chain, while the comparable year-ago period does not.

Because of this boost, the company said it expects full-year profit of $1.29 per share. It previously estimated full-year earnings between $1.24 and $1.25 per share.

The company opened 25 stores during the quarter, and has added 46 during the first three quarters of the year, helping to increase sales.

Crocs shareholders allege executives misled investors about operations

Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) executives have been accused of misleading shareholders about operations while they sold at least $58 million in stock before the price plummeted on the third-quarter earnings report.

According to allegations in two lawsuits filed by shareholders, CEO Ron Snyder and CFO Peter Case withheld key information about distribution problems in Europe and Japan that cost the company about $30 million in sales during the third quarter,

Shareholders also contend in the lawsuits that they were not told until after the third quarter ended that Crocs was building inventory of its products as sales began to slow due to cooler weather.

Company “statements and omissions were materially false and misleading in that they failed to disclose material adverse information and misrepresented the truth about the company, its business and operations,” wrote attorney Jeffrey Berens.

Between July 27 and Oct. 31, top-level company executives and board members sold a combined 963,162 shares for proceeds of at least $58 million.

On Oct. 31, Crocs reported third-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations, but sales fell short of predictions. The company raised earnings and revenue guidance for 2007, but those figures fell short of analyst estimates. Crocs shares fell 36 percent on the news.

The stock price has recovered slightly but dropped $3.07, or 7.3 percent, to $39.22 on Nov. 19. That compares with its 52-week range between $20.45 and $75.21 a share.

Amer Sports reorganizes winter and outdoor business

Amer Sports reported that it has reorganized its winter and outdoor business, appointing several executive positions. The company said the winter sports equipment businesses of Salomon and Atomic will come under common leadership, reporting to Roger Talermo, president and CEO of Amer Sports.

Michael Schineis, the current president of Atomic, has been named president of the new Amer Sports Winter Sports Equipment business area. He is a long-time veteran of Amer Sports and has extensive experience with both Atomic and Salomon, the company said.

To focus on the group’s opportunities in its apparel and footwear businesses, a new entity consisting of the Salomon and Arc’Teryx brands has been formed. The general manager for the Amer Sports apparel and footwear business area will be Jean-Marc Pambet, currently the general manager of Salomon Apparel and Footwear. The company said Jean-Luc Diard, previously president of Salomon, will leave Amer Sports to pursue other interests.

Bernard Millaud has been named general manager of Salomon Winter Sports Equipment, a position previously held by Philippe Dubé. Millaud is also now responsible for the legal entity of Salomon S.A. in Annecy and will continue in his role as general manager of Mavic. Dubé will focus on special assignments for Amer Sports.

Previously its vice president of sales and marketing, Wolfgang Mayrhofer has been named general manager of Atomic. Wilhelm Kerl, in addition to his current role as Atomic’s director of operations, has been appointed to evaluate potential models for the group’s winter sports equipment production. Mayrhofer and Kerl will also be jointly responsible for the legal entity of Atomic GmbH in Altenmarkt.

Jari Melgin, currently vice president, finance and administration at Salomon, will be responsible for the finance and administration functions of the winter and outdoor business.

Hibbett Sports earnings down 21 percent, hits new two-year low

Third-quarter earnings for Hibbett Sports (Nasdaq: HIBB) dropped 21 percent with flat sales and higher operating and administrative costs.

For the quarter ended Nov. 3, profit was $7.8 million, or $0.25 per share, versus $9.9 million, or $0.31 per share, in the comparable period a year ago.

Sales were flat at $129.6 million. Same-store sales declined 6.6 percent from the comparable fiscal period a year ago.

Expenses related to store operations, selling and administrative costs increased 9 percent from the year-ago period to $26.9 million from $24.8 million.

Additionally, the company expects to report earnings between $0.36 and $0.44 per share during its 2008 fiscal fourth quarter, which ends Feb. 2, 2008. It also anticipates a mid-single digit increase same store sales in the fourth quarter compared with the similar quarter a year ago.

For fiscal 2008, Hibbett expects earnings to range between $1.07 and $1.15 per share.

Shares of Hibbett dropped to a two-year low on Nov. 21 after the disappointing profit forecast for its fiscal fourth quarter. Shares fell $1.47, or 6.9 percent, to $19.71 in midday trading, and fell as far as $18.69. That was the stock’s lowest price since May 2005. It closed the day at $19.80.

In a client note, CIBC World Markets analyst Vivian Ma, who downgraded shares to “Sector Performer” from “Sector Outperformer,” said that in addition to its disappointing older-store sales, Hibbett’s newer stores are becoming less productive.

Ma removed her price target of $27 per share, and trimmed her profit estimates for the fourth quarter and full year. She lowered her fourth quarter earnings per share estimate to $0.40 from $0.45 and her full year fiscal 2007 estimate to $1.11 from $1.17.

The analyst noted that Hibbett’s same-store results have been slowing for the last few years, and the company is having trouble attracting customers because of broader economic issues and a lack of hot new products.

Wellman raises price of polyester staple fiber

Wellman (NYSE: WLM) said it will raise prices on all Fortrel polyester staple fiber products by an additional 4 cents per pound, effective Dec. 15.

Earlier this month, Wellman said it planned to increases prices on all products by 3 cents per pound on Dec. 1. Since then, the company said it was “insufficient” due to escalating costs for ethylene glycol, a primary material used in making polyester staple fiber.

Separately, the company said it will not declare a dividend in the fourth quarter of 2007. Its board concluded that this action is prudent in light of Wellman’s operating performance during the third quarter and its current debt levels.

VF names director of India venture

VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC), parent The North Face, JanSport and Eagle Creek, among others, named Kanchan Pant managing director of VF’s Arvind Brands Pte. Ltd. — the company’s majority-owned joint venture in India.

Pant, who has 20 years of branded apparel and retailing business in India and other international markets, most recently served as the managing director and CEO of Indus League Clothing Ltd., a $60 million multi-brand apparel retailer that he co-founded and is now part of the Future Group.

He will report to Aidan O’Meara, president of VF Asia Pacific, and will be based in Bangalore, India.

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