Outdoor financials: Royal Robbins represents 27.7 percent of Phoenix Footwear's Q1 sales, plus VF Corp., Outdoor Channel, Sara Lee, Big 5, Sportman's Guide

Royal Robbins represents 27.7 percent of Phoenix Footwear's Q1 sales, VF increases cash dividend by 90 percent, Outdoor Channel Holdings revenue up 12 percent, Duofold parent takes 78 percent income hit, Big 5 posts lower Q1 income, and The Sportsman's Guide reports 11 percent increase in sales.

Royal Robbins represents 27.7 percent of Phoenix Footwear’s Q1 sales
Robust growth from its Royal Robbins and H.S. Trask brands shot Phoenix Footwear Group’s (Amex: PXG) first-quarter net sales up 52.8 percent — $40.3 million, compared to $26.4 million for the first quarter of 2005. The company added that Altama, Tommy Bahama and Chambers also made significant contributions.

Net income for the first quarter was $3.0 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, on 8.2 million weighted-average shares outstanding, compared to net income of $1.2 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, on 7.9 million weighted-average shares outstanding, for the comparable quarter a year ago. Included in net income is a $1.5 million gain associated with a purchase price adjustment for Altama. Excluding this gain, earnings per diluted share were $0.19, an increase of 27 percent.

Gross margin in the first quarter of 2006 was 38.9 percent — an increase of 150 basis points compared to a gross margin of 37.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005 and a decrease of 110 basis points compared to a gross margin of 40.0 percent in the first quarter of 2005. Operating costs increased to $10.3 million, compared to $8.2 million in the first quarter of 2005. Operating income for the first quarter totaled $5.4 million, compared to operating income of $2.4 million in 2005.

Phoenix Footwear reported that first-quarter net sales for Royal Robbins were “particularly strong” at $11.2 million, an increase of 29 percent, compared to $8.7 million a year ago. The segment’s sales represented 27.7 percent of total company sales, driven by demand in both domestic and international markets.

Also, during the first quarter, Royal Robbins began selling directly in Canada and the company said the initial performance has exceeded its expectations. Domestically, Royal Robbins opened 20 new accounts for the fall 2006 season. During the quarter, though, the company ceased selling to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the loss of sales could affect full year 2006 sales revenue, it added.

Among its other business units: Net sales for H.S. Trask increased 16.2 percent in the first quarter to $2.4 million, compared to $2.0 million a year ago. Sales from the Tommy Bahama Footwear brand, which was acquired in August 2005, totaled $4.3 million, or 10.7 percent of total sales. Chambers Belt Company’s net sales contribution was $7.7 million, representing 19.0 percent of total sales. Altama’s net sales for 2006 increased 5.4 percent to $7.2 million, compared to net sales of $6.8 million in 2005, and represented 17.8 percent of sales. SoftWalk posted net sales of $3.3 million for the first quarter, down 21.2 percent from $4.2 million for the first quarter of 2005. First quarter Trotters’ sales decreased 8.2 percent to $4.3 million, compared to $4.6 million for the same quarter a year ago primarily related to lower close-out sales.

Previously, Phoenix had announced that its president and CEO, Rick White, had resigned to pursue entrepreneurial interests, but will consult with the company during the transition period. Chairman Jim Riedman will assume the additional duties of CEO, while the board initiates a search for the position.

VF increases cash dividend by 90 percent
VF Corp.’s (NYSE: VFC) board of directors approved a 90 percent increase in the cash dividend payable to common shareholders. The company, parent of The North Face and JanSport, also affirmed its commitment to sustaining strong annual revenue growth of 6 percent to 8 percent.

The company boosted the quarterly payout to $0.55 from $0.29, payable June 19 to holders of record June 9. This increase results in an indicated annual rate of $2.20 per share.

“Our growth plan is working, as indicated by three straight years of record sales, earnings and very strong returns on invested capital. This performance, coupled with our robust cash flow, enables VF to deliver higher value directly to our shareholders that is both significant and sustainable, while continuing to invest in our many growth opportunities,” said Mackey J. McDonald, VF’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Company achievements include revenue and earnings per share growth since 2003 of 24 percent and 26 percent, respectively. It added that it has also expanded its geographical reach — since 2003, international revenues have increased 42 percent and now represent 25 percent of total revenues.

Outdoor Channel Holdings revenue up 12 percent

For the first quarter, Outdoor Channel Holdings (Nasdaq: OUTD) reported total revenues of $11.3 million, up 12 percent from $10.1 million in the prior-year period.

But it did have a first-quarter net loss of $82,000, based on 24.5 million weighted shares outstanding. It adopted SFAS 123R related to expensing stock-based compensation, reducing net income by $490,000 and earnings per share by $0.02 in the quarter. In the year-ago first quarter, net income totaled $452,000, or $0.02 per diluted share, based on 22.4 million weighted average shares outstanding.

Subscriber fees from The Outdoor Channel rose 20 percent to $4.4 million from $3.6 million a year earlier, reflecting an increased number of paying subscribers as well as contractual subscriber fee rate increases. Advertising revenue was up 8 percent to $5.7 million in the 2006 first quarter from $5.3 million a year ago. Membership incomeincreased by 5 percent over the prior-year period and rounded to $1.2 million for both the 2006 and 2005 first quarters.

In the quarter, the company said it opened its own digital broadcast facility, allowing it to perform its own play-back and satellite up-link of its East Coast and West Coast feeds as well as its high definition channel.

Duofold parent takes 78 percent income hit
Sara Lee (NYSE: SLE), which includes Duofold among its many brands, reported a 78 percent drop in third-quarter income –much lower than analyst expectations — suffering from charges for disposing of businesses and a 1.3 percent drop in sales.

Net income for the quarter was down to $42 million, or $0.06 per share, from $189 million, or $0.24 a share, during the same period a year ago. Revenue fell to $3.79 billion from $3.84 billion.

Sara Lee said it was hurt by higher prices for such commodities as wheat and coffee. Its total commodity costs increased by $147 million in the quarter, only partially offset by $98 million of higher pricing.

The company said results include $0.16 per share in charges from the recognition of goodwill impairments, severance and other costs related to the company’s revamping of its business portfolio, offset in part by gains on the sale of its European branded apparel and rice businesses. Excluding those items, earnings were $0.22 per share, or $0.03 less than the consensus estimate of analysts.

The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of $0.27 to $0.32 per share, excluding one-time charges, and full-year earnings of between $0.98 and $1.03 per share. The full-year guidance includes the $0.16 charges from the third quarter.

Big 5 posts lower Q1 income
First-quarter net income for Big 5 Sporting Goods (Nasdaq: BGFV) was down 7.8 percent — $5.9 million, or $0.26 per share, in 2006 vs. $6.4 million, or $0.28 per share, in 2005 — hit by various one-time charges.

Results for the quarter included about $1.8 million in distribution center transition costs, $700,000 in auditing and consulting costs and $1.7 million in distribution center costs capitalized into inventory, it said. Year-ago results include a $500,000 charge related to a flood at one of the company’s stores.

Net sales increased 9 percent to $207.2 million from $190.1 million a year earlier. Same-store sales rose 5.3 percent. Results were still better than analyst predictions of $0.18 a share earnings on revenue of $202.6 million.

“Each of our major merchandise categories of footwear, hardgoods and apparel posted gains, with exceptional strength in winter products driven by favorable winter weather comparisons, particularly over the last several weeks of the quarter,” Steven Miller, CEO and president, said in a statement.

Big 5 also said its board authorized a buyback of up to $15 million shares. The company said the shares would be repurchased from time to time, on the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. The board also authorized an increase in cash dividend to an annual rate of $0.36 per share from $0.28. The board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.09 per share to be paid on June 15 to stockholders of record as of June 1.

It opened two new stores during the first quarter, bringing its store count to 326. It anticipates opening a total of three new stores during the second quarter, and opening a total of about 20 new stores during 2006.

The Sportsman’s Guide reports 11 percent increase in sales
While awaiting shareholder approval on a buyout by Redcats USA, The Sportman’s Guide (Nasdaq: SGDE) reported its first-quarter financial results, including an 11 percent increase in sales mainly from higher Internet-related sales.

Net sales for the quarter were $71.6 million compared to $64.6 million reported for the same period in 2005. Net earnings were $2.2 million, or $0.27 per fully diluted share ($0.32 per fully diluted share before stock-based compensation expense), down slightly from 2005’s $2.3 million, or $0.28 per fully diluted share.

The company said the decrease in net earnings was due to the adoption of SFAS 123R, which requires all share-based payments, including grants of stock options, to be recognized in the income statement as an operating expense. The stock-based compensation expense totaled $568,000 on a pre-tax basis.

Consolidated selling, general and administrative expenses for the quarter were $18.7 million, or 26.1 percent of net sales, compared to $16.5 million, or 25.5 percent of net sales, for the same period last year.

On May 5, the company announced that it had reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by Redcats USA for $31 per share. Once approved by stockholders, the transaction is expected to close during the third calendar quarter of this year.

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