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Outdoor financials: Johnson Outdoors' Q1 loss widens, plans to boost support of paddlesports segment, plus Kellwood, Cabela's, GSI, Liz Claiborne

Johnson Outdoors' Q1 loss widens and plans to boost support of paddlesports segment, Kellwood to let stockholders decide on Sun Capital takeover bid, Cabela's closes $500 million securitization, GSI releases prelim '07 profit below analyst expectation and announces agreement to acquire e-Dialog, and Liz Claiborne sets quarterly dividend.

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Johnson Outdoors’ Q1 loss widens, plans to boost support of paddlesports segment

Johnson Outdoors’ (Nasdaq: JOUT) first-quarter loss widened as it experienced slower military sales and took impairment charges.

For the period ended Dec. 28, the company reported a loss of $4.7 million compared with a loss of $1.6 million a year ago.

Its loss from continuing operations grew to $3.6 million, or $0.40 per share, compared with a loss of $1.3 million, or $0.14 per share. Quarterly results included $1.3 million in impairment charges related to inventory and fixed assets.

Quarterly sales rose to $76 million, up 6 percent from $71.4 million in the previous year. Outdoor equipment sales slipped 42 percent to $8 million from $13.7 million as the company experienced an expected slowdown in military sales. Also, the company had a one-time special order of $1.4 million in the prior-year quarter.

Marine electronics revenue climbed 13 percent to $33.3 million from $29.5 million, while watercraft revenue increased 17 percent to $13.5 million from $11.5 million due to positive response to new products in the paddlesports segment. Diving sales rose 27 percent to $21.5 million from $16.9 million.

In other company news: Johnson Outdoors said it’s exploring strategic alternatives for its Escape brand products and boosting support of growth initiatives for its paddlesport segment. Companies often use the phrase “strategic alternatives” when they consider finding a buyer.

As a result, the company said it incurred fiscal first-quarter impairment charges of $1.3 million related to inventory and fixed assets. Future impairment charges are estimated at about $200,000 and the results of the Escape brand products will be reported as discontinued operations, the company said.

The company said the decision to explore strategic alternatives for Escape will allow it to focus watercraft resources on its paddling brands where there is the most potential for profitable growth.

The company said paddlesport sales management has been realigned to bring added focus and service to retail trade customers with Rob Dorcas, a 15-year industry veteran, appointed director of North American specialty sales and Glen MacPherson named director of national accounts. In these new roles, a statement said, both are dedicated to the development and implementation of unique sales and promotional programs and activities targeted at generating retail traffic and revenue growth for their respective trade channel of responsibility.

Kellwood to let stockholders decide on Sun Capital takeover bid

Kellwood (NYSE: KWD) said it intends to remove all impediments and allow a $542.3 million takeover bid by Sun Capital Securities Group a private investment group to go forward if a majority of the company’s shareholders tender their shares.

Sun Capital offered $21 per share for the company earlier this month. Kellwood’s board directors rejected the same offer twice before, saying its own plan would be better for shareholders.

The offer is a 23 percent premium to Jan. 25’s closing share price of $17.10. Sun Capital values its offer at about $762 million, including debt. Sun Capital owns a 9.9 percent stake in Kellwood.

“While it is our strong preference to continue as an independent company, we believe that stockholders should be able to make their own decisions on a $21 per share cash offer that is not subject to due diligence or financing,” said CEO Robert C. Skinner Jr. in a statement.

Kellwood said it would rescind its $60 million debt tender offer, which Sun Capital urged it to drop when it made its latest bid. At the time, Sun Capital said the tender offer would destroy the company’s value. Otherwise, the firm’s buyout price will drop to $19.50 per share.

Sun Capital Vice President Jason Bernzweig said in a statement that the company is pleased that shareholders will be allowed to decide whether to tender shares and supports Kellwood’s decision to terminate its debt tender.

Kellwood said its board is not taking any position on whether or not shareholders should tender their shares. But the company added it will approach third parties, including Sun Capital, to see if any are interested in offering a higher price.

Kellwood also said if it believes there is a “reasonable likelihood” of getting a higher offer, it reserves the right to not remove impediments to Sun Capital’s bid.

Kellwood shares rose $2.40, or 14 percent, to $19.50 in pre-market trading after closing Jan. 25 at $17.10.

Kellwood is the parent of various outdoor brands, including Sierra Designs, Kelty, Royal Robbins, Slumberjack, Ultimate Direction and Wenzel.

Cabela’s closes $500 million securitization

Cabela’s (NYSE: CAB) said that Cabela’s Credit Card Master Note Trust successfully completed the sale of $500 million in asset-backed notes. The securitization transaction included the issuance of six classes of notes.

In connection with the securitization transaction, the note trust entered into an interest rate swap with a notional amount equal to the Class A-2 Note principal balance and a fixed interest rate of 4.322 percent. Each class of notes has an expected life of approximately three years, with a legal maturity of approximately six years.

This securitization refinances an existing $300 million securitization that matured January 2008 with a fixed interest rate of 3.933 percent, with the remainder funding continued growth of World’s Foremost Bank’s credit card portfolio.

GSI releases prelim ’07 profit below analyst expectation, to acquire e-Dialog

GSI Commerce (Nasdaq: GSIC), which provides online commerce services for customers including retailers and manufacturers, reported preliminary 2007 operating income below analyst expectations.

Profit from operations for the year ended Dec. 29 is expected to be $5.3 million to $6.3 million, down significantly from $9.6 million in fiscal 2006, according to GSI. It also is below the company’s most recent guidance of $8 million to $11 million.

The company said results missed expectations due to higher-than-expected amortization of intangibles related to its acquisition of Accretive Commerce.

GSI expects 2007 revenue to be between $748 million to $750 million, up about 23 percent from $609.6 million in fiscal 2006. The company previously said it expected revenue between $737 million and $757 million for 2007.

Analysts said they expect 2007 operating profit of $10.8 million on revenue of $748.1 million.

GSI said it is completing its fiscal 2007 year-end tax provision and will not estimate net income until the process is finished.

It also said it will take a $5.1 million loss from the sale of marketable securities.

For fiscal 2008, the company predicts revenue of about $1 billion, while analysts expect revenue of $949.7 million.

In other company news: GSI said it agreed to acquire e-Dialog, an email marketing company, for $157 million in cash and stock. The deal is expected to close in 30 days. GSI said the acquisition will expand its marketing services portfolio.

Under terms of the deal, GSI will pay $147.8 million in cash and $9.2 million in stock. It will also make cash payment of $750,000 in fiscal 2009 if revenue targets are made in fiscal 2008.

Liz Claiborne sets quarterly dividend

Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ), parent of Prana, said its board declared a regular quarterly dividend of 5.625 cents per share. The dividend is payable on March 17 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 22.

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