By  on October 23, 2006

NEW YORK — Revenue growth across all divisions pushed VF Corp. to its 12th consecutive quarter of earnings gains.

"Certainly, the retail environment remains as challenging as ever, so our performance this quarter, and indeed this year, serves as a testament to our efforts," Mackey McDonald, chairman and chief executive officer, said during a company conference call with analysts.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, earnings increased 10.1 percent, to $197.7 million, or $1.75 a share, surpassing Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $1.67. Earnings for the same period a year ago were $179.6 million, or $1.57 a share.

Revenues rose 11.6 percent, to $2.03 billion, compared with revenues of $1.82 billion in the year-ago period. Sales rose 11.8 percent, to $2.01 billion from $1.8 billion. McDonald attributed gains to a larger-than-expected surge in September sales.

The company's outdoor segment, which includes The North Face, Vans and Napapijri brands, again led all divisions in revenue gains, posting a 25.5 percent increase, to $659 million from $525.2 million. Domestic revenues for the segment were up 20 percent while international revenues expanded 27 percent.

"The good news is, we believe there's much more to come," Eric Wiseman, president and chief operating officer, who was named to the company's board last week, said during the call. He said The North Face brand bookings for spring were already up more than 20 percent in North America and Europe.

"We're seeing a similar story at Vans," said Wiseman, noting that spring bookings for the brand were up 47 percent in the U.S. and more than 20 percent in Europe.

The company's jeanswear segment, its largest and oldest division, reported growth across all retail channels, including a rebound in the Lee business. Jeanswear revenues increased 6.3 percent, to $738.2 million from $694.7 million. Domestic revenues grew 5 percent. Asked about one of its competitors losing space in the mass channel, likely a reference to falling sales of the Levi Strauss Signature brand at Wal-Mart, Wiseman said VF was seeing growth in mass channel space.

VF's struggling intimates business also rebounded during the quarter. A strong performance by the Vanity Fair and Lily of France brands spurred a 4.6 percent revenue increase, to $223.7 million from $213.8 million. Imagewear revenues rose 6.3 percent, to $215.7 million from $203 million, and sportswear revenues went up 5.8 percent, to $184 million from $173.9 million.

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