Columbia 1Q sales up, but officials lower forecast for 2013

The chilly spring sprung Columbia Sportwear’ sales and profit for the first-quarter 2013, but officials are less upbeat for the full year.

The chilly spring sprung Columbia Sportwear’s (NASDAQ: COLM) sales and profit for the first-quarter 2013, but upcoming wholesale orders tempered, prompting officials to project a slight sales decrease for 2013.

Columbia, which is also parent to Mountain Hardwear, Montrail and Sorel brands, reported its first-quarter sales up 5 percent to $348.3 million, while quarterly profit improved to $10.1 million versus $3.9 million a year ago.

“Cold weather in North America helped us liquidate additional Fall season inventory, primarily through our direct-to-consumer channels, putting our inventory levels in better shape than last year at this time,” Columbia president and CEO Tim Boyle said. Total inventories fell by 11 percent.

“Cold weather also helped our wholesale customers liquidate more of their Fall 2012 inventory; however, it did not alter their cautious posture in placing advance orders for our Fall 2013 product offering. Accordingly, based on current advance wholesale order levels, our direct-to-consumer expansion plans, the anticipated effects of transitioning to a joint venture in China and a number of other variables and assumptions, our full-year 2013 outlook anticipates slightly lower net sales compared to 2012.”

Columbia officials previously had projected no change in 2013 sales.

Boyle said the company will continue to focus on broadening its goal to become a more year-round outdoor company with additional spring and summer products, including its push in cooling apparel with its Omni-Freeze Zero technology at Columbia and Cool.Q Zero at Mountain Hardwear. He added that Columbia also is expanding further into performance fishing gear.

By product category, Columbia reported a 4 percent rise in apparel, accessories and equipment and an 11 percent gain in footwear. By brand, Columbia sales rose 3 percent, Mountain Hardwear gained 5 percent and Sorel gained a whopping 94 percent — the latter illustrating how deep consumers had pulled back from winter footwear category last season with little snow, and how quickly they returned this season when winter weather finally arrived.

–David Clucas