Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today reported record earnings for its fourth quarter and 2003 fiscal year, marking its third consecutive year of record results.
The Company achieved record revenue totaling $888.9 million for its 2003 fiscal year ended on January 3, 2004, a 7.5 percent increase over 2002 revenue of $827.1 million. For the fourth quarter of 2003, the Company reported revenue of $282.8 million, an 8.2 percent increase over fourth quarter 2002 revenue of $261.4 million. Earnings per share for fiscal 2003 grew to $1.27, a 10.4 percent increase over the $1.15 per share reported in 2002. Fourth quarter 2003 earnings per share increased to $0.46, a 9.5 percent increase over fourth quarter 2002 earnings per share of $0.42.
''Wolverine World Wide had a very strong 2003 as reflected by our record results and continued consumer enthusiasm for our global brands,'' stated Timothy J. O'Donovan, the Company's President and CEO. ''We continue to progress in our mission to become the world's premier non-athletic footwear company as evidenced by our fourth consecutive year of sales growth, the generation of record profits and the acceleration of our global brand building initiatives.''
''We are pleased to report that all four of our major branded footwear operations contributed to our increased profits in 2003 with Merrell leading the way. Our Merrell and CAT European operations reported solid profits, the Wolverine Footwear Group delivered strong results and the Hush Puppies U.S. business made key strides in its repositioning plan. Combined, these achievements offer a strong platform to carry momentum into 2004.''
''Our fourth quarter showed significant sales growth, improved gross margin and record cash generation,'' reported the Company's CFO, Stephen L. Gulis Jr. ''Fourth quarter 2003 gross margin of 37.1 percent improved 170 basis points over fourth quarter 2002. This improvement resulted from continued growth in our lifestyle businesses, a higher mix of full-margin shipments and reduced inventory markdowns. For the full year 2003, gross margin improved 110 basis points.''
''Year end 2003 accounts receivable and inventory levels were down 6.0 percent and 2.4 percent respectively on 2003 revenue growth of 7.5 percent. Our asset management programs continue to yield positive results and, excluding the Sebago business acquired in November 2003, inventory and accounts receivable were reduced by $25 million. These initiatives assisted us in generating $100 million of cash from operating activities in the year.''
O'Donovan concluded, ''Our 2003 year-end order backlog is up 20 percent over prior year-end levels. This increase in order backlog is driven by our growing lifestyle and sandal businesses, solid work boot and military contract demand as well as the addition of the Sebago business. The positioning of our brands is market-right and, combined with our strong order backlog, has led us to revise our 2004 earnings estimates. We continue to expect revenue to range between $945 and $965 million and have increased our earnings per share estimates by $.03 per share to a range of $1.37 to $1.43.''