Outdoor financials: Eddie Bauer Holdings on sales block again, plus Rocky, Crocs

Eddie Bauer Holdings on sales block again, Rocky Shoes & Boots changes name to Rocky Brands, Crocs raises Q2 guidance and files public secondary offering.

Eddie Bauer Holdings on sales block again
Eddie Bauer Holdings put itself on the sales block again on May 25 after mixed results to revive its brand name. Analyst pundits are bandying VF Corp. and Liz Claiborne as possible suitors.

The company has retained Goldman Sachs Group as its financial adviser to assist with a possible sale, but said that there could be no assurance of a deal. The move comes just 15 months after Eddie Bauer’s parent, bankrupt retailer Spiegel Inc., pulled the company off the auction block. The first time it was up for sale with an asking price of $1 billion, bids never broke the $800 million barrier and were as low as $650 million.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in June 2005 as Eddie Bauer Holdings, the company has revamped its clothing designs and prices, shuttered its home goods business, and closed underperforming stores. “Results have not lived up to our expectations and indicate that our customers did not respond positively to all of the changes we made to our product offerings,” the company said in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sales in stores open at least a year dropped 4.3 percent and 7.1 percent in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, of 2005. Same-store sales dropped 10 percent in the first quarter of 2006.

According to news reports, analysts believe VF (NYSE: VFC) and Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ) are interested in Eddie Bauer since they are each weighing potential acquisitions, but both have declined to comment.

VF Chairman and CEO Mackey McDonald has said in an April earnings call and in the media that the company is actively on the hunt for acquisitions, and that it’s interested in adding to its collection of outdoors-oriented apparel and lifestyle brands. VF’s strategic plans also include dramatically increasing the number of retail stores it operates 375 stores in the United States and Canada. VF is interested in acquisitions of up to $1 billion.

Earlier this month, Eddie Bauer filed to register its shares for listing on Nasdaq. The company’s stock currently trades on the Pink Sheets. The stock closed at $14.20, up $1.45 a share.

Rocky Shoes & Boots changes name to Rocky Brands
Rocky Shoes & Boots Inc. is no more as company shareholders approved a name change to Rocky Brands Inc. (Nasdaq: RCKY) during its annual shareholder meeting. It became effective May 22 after the company filed an amendment with the Secretary of State of Ohio.

“The Rocky name is synonymous with quality, comfort, and durability and it will continue to serve as the foundation of our company into the future,” said Mike Brooks, the company’s chairman and CEO. “At the same time, we now operate a diversified portfolio of leading brands in addition to Rocky Outdoor Gear including Georgia Boot, Durango, Lehigh and Dickies, and we believe our new name better represents our expanded operations and our growing position in the marketplace. “

Crocs raises Q2 guidance, files public secondary offering
Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) boosted its second-quarter earnings and revenue guidance citing stronger sales demand. It now expects sales for the quarter to be between $62 million and $65 million compared to its previous sales guidance range of $53 million to $55 million.

The company added that it now anticipates net income per diluted common share to range from $0.23 to $0.25, versus its previous expectation of net income per diluted common share of $0.21 to $0.22. The estimates include stock-option expenses.

Crocs shares rose $2.90, or 11.2 percent, to $28.90 in aftermarket trading on the INET electronic exchange, after closing down 41 cents at $26 on the Nasdaq.

Also, the company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an underwritten public secondary offering of shares of common stock held by Crocs stockholders. Crocs will not receive any proceeds from the sale of these shares. Piper Jaffray & Co. and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC will be joint book-running managers for the offering.

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