LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. reported net sales for the fourth quarter and quarter ended Dec. 31, 2009 were $42.5 million, up 21% from $35.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. The 2009 results represent record quarterly sales for the company. For the full year 2009, net sales were $139.2 million, up 9% from $128 million in 2008.
Net income was $2.3 million or 36 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2009, up 96% from $1.2 million or 18 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2008. For the full year 2009, net income was $5.5 million or 86 cents per diluted share, compared to $6.2 million or 96 cents per diluted share for the same period in 2008.
Sales to the work market were $25.2 million for the fourth quarter and $88.2 million for the full year of 2009, up 25% and 18%, respectively, from the same periods of 2008. The growth in work sales primarily reflects continued expansion into various areas of the U.S. military. Sales to the outdoor market were $17.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2009, up 16% from the same period of 2008, reflecting stronger at-once demand during the quarter across a number of outdoor boot categories. For the full year 2009, outdoor sales were $51 million, down 4% from 2008, reflecting softness in the overall retail environment throughout the first three quarters of 2009.
The company maintained strong margins. Gross margins were 38.4% of net sales for the fourth quarter and 38.9% for the full year of 2009, compared to 38.6% and 39.6%, respectively, in the same periods of 2008. The year-over-year decrease in gross margin primarily reflects the impact of a greater portion of revenue coming from military shipments and cost increases associated with key rubber styles.
For the full year 2009, operating expenses represented 32.7% of net sales, compared to 31.7% in 2008. The increase reflects higher costs related to the establishment of the new Midwest distribution center and the Company strengthening its sales and marketing organization in Europe and North America.
The Company continued to strengthen its balance sheet. At the end of 2009, LaCrosse had record cash and cash equivalents of $17.7 million, up 30% from the end of 2008, even after making investments of $2.7 million in its new Midwest distribution center and paying dividends of $3.2 million to its shareholders during 2009. Total inventory at year end was $27.0 million, down from $28.6 million in 2008. The $1.6 million year-over-year reduction in inventory primarily reflects the Company’s focus on improving inventory management, despite the significant growth in domestic production for the Company’s expanded military business.
“We’re very pleased with our strong sales and earnings growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, driven by increased demand across work and outdoor markets,” said Joseph P. Schneider, president and CEO of LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. “Throughout the year, we continued to see strong demand from various branches of the U.S. military, reflecting the proven durability and performance of our premium footwear in demanding terrain. While 2009 was a challenging year for retail sales, we saw stronger at-once demand from new and longstanding retail channels during the fourth quarter, reflecting the improving economic environment and the success of our new products.
“During 2009, we took important steps to improve the long-term efficiency and strength of our business. We significantly improved our inventory management and strengthened our balance sheet, ending the year with no debt and a record cash position. We also completed our new Midwest distribution center, transitioned our nationwide sales force into a dedicated in-house team, intensified our focus on core products and strengthened our position with a number of major retailers.
“As we move into 2010, we plan to continue to introduce innovative new products and further enhance our sales and marketing efforts to strengthen awareness and demand for our brands. We believe LaCrosse is increasingly well-positioned to continue to capture market share in 2010 and beyond.”
LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. also announced that its Board of Directors has approved a special cash dividend of one dollar per share of common stock. In addition, a quarterly cash dividend of 12.5 cents per share of common stock has also been approved. Together totaling $7.1 million or $1.125 per share of common stock, these dividends will be paid on March 18, 2010 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 22, 2010.
“Today’s action by our Board of Directors reflects our strong financial results in recent years, our continued confidence in the Company’s future and our commitment to provide increasing value to our shareholders,” said Joseph P. Schneider, president and CEO of LaCrosse Footwear, Inc.