Wolverine World Wide, Inc. reported revenue totaled $288.2 million for the first quarter of 2008, a 2.6% increase over first quarter 2007 revenue of $281.1 million. Gross margin as a percentage of net sales increased 160 basis points to 42.2% from 40.6% for the year-ago quarter, which led net income to a 6.3% increase to $23.7 million from $22.3 million last year. Earnings per share increased to 46 cents, a 17.9% increase over first quarter 2007 earnings per share of 39 cents.

“During the quarter, revenue growth was strongest in the Outdoor Group and our international businesses,” commented Blake Krueger, CEO and president. “In particular, our royalty-based global licensing and distribution businesses had a very strong quarter. The Outdoor Group remained the Company's leading profit contributor during the quarter, led by the Merrell businesses in the U.S. and Europe. This marks the twenty-third consecutive quarter of record revenue and earnings per share for the Company.”

“First quarter earnings were strong, with gross margin expansion driving operating margin to 12.6 percent, a 100 basis point increase,” reported the Company's CFO, Stephen L. Gulis Jr. “The increase resulted primarily from improved pricing margins and the positive impact from a weak U.S. dollar in our Company-owned international wholesale operations.

“First quarter 2008 inventory levels were down 4.0 percent. Inventory reductions were achieved in several operating groups resulting from the Company's continued focus on inventory management. Accounts receivable increased 12.2 percent due to strong spring shipments towards the end of the quarter. Our balance sheet remains very strong as we repurchased $47.7 million of company stock during the first quarter and finished the quarter with a cash balance of $47.5 million and total debt of $70.8 million.”

Krueger concluded, “Even in this challenging retail environment, the consumer continues to embrace our global lifestyle brands, which offer innovative products that bring style to purpose. We ended the first quarter of 2008 with our order backlog up over 10 percent. On the strength of our order backlog and first quarter 2008 results, we are increasing the company's 2008 earnings per share estimate from our previous estimate of $1.80 to $1.88 to our new range of $1.83 to $1.90. We continue to expect revenue to range from $1.230 billion to $1.260 billion. The earnings per share estimate is consistent with our stated long-term objective of delivering double-digit earnings per share growth while investing in growth initiatives for the future.”

($000's, except per share data)

12 Weeks Ended
March 22, March 24,
2008 2007

Revenue $288,238 $281,052
Cost of products sold 166,677 167,051
Gross margin 121,561 114,001

Selling and administrative
expenses 85,292 81,335
Operating margin 36,269 32,666

Interest (income) expense, net 63 (690)
Other expense (income) 567 (160)
630 (850)
Earnings before income taxes 35,639 33,516

Income taxes 11,938 11,227

Net earnings $23,701 $22,289

Diluted earnings per share $.46 $.39