Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Nautica Enterprises Inc. on Friday posted a substantial fourth-quarter loss, while yearend income plummeted 62.5 percent.
The company also said it expects a first-quarter loss.
For the three months ended March 2, the loss was $8.4 million, or 25 cents a diluted share, against income of $13.1 million, or 39 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding special charges relating to both the closure of Nautica’s Rockland, Maine, distribution center and the cancellation of future obligations pertaining to a letter agreement with David Chu, the firm’s vice chairman, income dropped 95.4 percent to $600,000, or 2 cents, a penny above the consensus estimate. Sales in the period dipped 1 percent to $156.6 million from $158.2 million. The gain in sales was driven by the strong performance of existing businesses, as well as the contribution from the Earl Jeans and Nautica children’s wear operations added during the year.
Nautica, which said it expects the performance at retail to return to more acceptable levels during the latter half of the year, provided guidance of a first-quarter loss between 8 and 9 cents, which includes charges of $2.1 million in connection with the closure of the Rockland distribution center. For the year, earnings are expected at between 84 and 94 cents.
For the year, income nosedived 62.5 percent to just $17.3 million, or 50 cents, from last year’s $46.1 million, or $1.39. Excluding the charges, income fell 43 percent to $26.6 million, or 76 cents. Sales rose 10.3 percent to $692.1 million from $627.7 million.

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