Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today reported record third quarter and year-to-date revenue and earnings per share.
Revenue for the third quarter of 2003 rose 5.2 percent to $230.6 million compared to $219.2 million reported for the third quarter of 2002. Third quarter 2003 earnings per share increased 8.1 percent to $0.40 compared to $0.37 generated during the same quarter last year.
For the first three quarters of 2003, revenue and earnings per share reached $606.1 million and $0.81 respectively, representing a 7.1 percent improvement in revenue and an 11.0 percent earnings per share increase.
''We are pleased with the Company's record third quarter results,'' stated Timothy J. O'Donovan, Wolverine's President and CEO. ''This performance was driven by solid revenue increases from Merrell, Hush Puppies and the Wolverine Footwear Group. In addition, all of our branded footwear businesses generated earnings gains in the quarter. I am especially pleased with the improved profitability of our recently acquired CAT European business, which is beginning to realize the benefits of our operating model.''
''Our business portfolio is generating strong operating leverage,'' reported the Company's CFO, Stephen L. Gulis Jr. ''Our record third quarter earnings per share was driven by a 200 basis point expansion in gross margin, which reached 37.6 percent for the third quarter. This increase relates primarily to heightened consumer demand for our higher margin lifestyle product offerings, along with reduced inventory markdowns and improved operating efficiencies. Year-to-date gross margin reached 36.6 percent, a 90 basis point improvement over 2002. We expect to close 2003 with full year margin near this improved year-to-date level.''
''Our asset management programs are yielding strong results. Compared to the prior year third quarter, inventories were reduced 4.2 percent while accounts receivable increased slightly on record sales. These programs have led to improved asset returns, lower working capital investment and reduced levels of debt and interest expense. We exited the third quarter of 2003, historically our peak in working capital investment, with no outstanding revolving debt.''
O'Donovan concluded, ''We are entering the fourth quarter with a 5.5 percent increase in order backlog. Given this backlog increase and historic reorder levels, we expect to achieve our previously stated full year 2003 revenue and earnings per share guidance of $875 million to $885 million and $1.21 to $1.24 per share respectively. Turning to 2004, we have begun our planning process, and our initial goals are for revenue to increase to a range of $945 to $965 million, with earnings per share of $1.34 to $1.40.''