Life Fitness, Precor see strong equipment sales to close 2013

A cold and snowy winter throughout much of the country and rising international sales are helping fitness equipment manufacturers on Wall Street.

Keep the cold weather and snow coming!

While many might be ready for spring at this point, one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory for much of the country is making fitness equipment retailers, clubs and manufacturers smile.

After two warm winters, athletes are heading back indoors for their workouts and training, helping boost sales of fitness equipment in clubs and at home.

Positive fourth-quarter and year-end results from the top fitness manufacturers on Wall Street, bear the evidence of a market on the upswing, no doubt helped by the colder temps and a recovering U.S. economy, but also a boost in international sales.

Life Fitness and Hammer Strength, owned by Brunswick (NYSE: BC), reported its fitness segment’s fourth-quarter sales up 15 percent to $210.6 million, boosting full-year 2013 sales up, 9 percent to $693.5 million.

“We believe that our fitness segment should continue to benefit from favorable health and fitness trends, as well as solid growth rates in global health club and hospitality businesses,” Brunswick CEO Dustan McCoy said in the company’s earnings release. “These market conditions, combined with exciting new products, have positioned our fitness business to continue to deliver excellent results and support our increased level of investment spending.”

Compared to its overall business — Brunswick also sells boats, bowling and billiards — Fitness provided a growth leader for the nearly $3.9 billion-a-year company, which saw total sales rise 9 percent in the fourth quarter and up 5 percent for the full year.

Precor, owned by Amer Sports (Nasdaq: AGPDY), also reported healthy results. Fourth-quarter fitness sales rose 11 percent (16 percent in local currencies) to EUR 97.6 million ($132.8 million), and full-year 2013 sales were up 8 percent (13 percent in local currencies) to EUR 296 million ($402.7 million).

In local currencies, the company’s Americas’ fitness sales increased by 8 percent, Europe by 14 percent and Asia Pacific by 39 percent. The commercial business (clubs and institutions) accounted for 88 percent of the business, while the consumer side represented 12 percent.

For Amer, too, fitness proved to be a leading gainer for the year. The company, which also sells in the outdoor and ball sports categories, saw its overall sales up 6 percent (12 percent in local currencies) in the fourth quarter to EUR 657.4 million ($894.3 million) and up 4 percent (8 percent in local currencies) to EUR 2.1 billion ($2.86 billion) for all of 2013.

Nautilus, the other publicly traded fitness equipment manufacturer is expected to release its year-end results in early March.

–David Clucas

How did the fourth quarter and holiday season treat your fitness retail business? Email SNEWS with industry feedback and fodder as we begin gathering information for our 11th annual FitBiz Retail Report.