Outdoor recreation showing signs of stability, says Johnson Outdoors

RACINE, Wis. – Johnson Outdoors Inc. (Nasdaq: JOUT), a global outdoor recreation company, generated net sales of $70.5 million for the first fiscal quarter ended Jan. 1, a 1-percent increase compared to net sales of $69.8 million for the prior year quarter, the company reported in a statement today.

Favorable currency translation had a positive 3.3 percent impact on revenues during the quarter. Loss from continuing operations of $4.2 million, or ($0.45) per diluted share for the first quarter of 2010, compared favorably to a loss from continuing operations of $6.9 million or ($0.75) per diluted share in the prior year quarter, according to the company.

“We have worked hard over the past 18 months to position Johnson Outdoors to compete effectively in today’s new marketplace by reducing infrastructure, focusing strategies, strengthening the balance sheet and investing appropriately in meaningful innovation,” said Helen Johnson-Leipold, chairman and CEO. “Early indications are that outdoor recreational markets will begin a slow, yet steady recovery in 2010, and we feel good about our ability to grow share, improve profitability and enhance shareholder value going forward,”

Due to the seasonality of the warm-weather outdoor recreational products industry, the company’s first fiscal quarter results historically reflect a loss and are not indicative of the year’s overall performance, stated Johnson Outdoors. During the current year first quarter, outdoor recreational markets appeared to be stabilizing with consumer brands in three of the company’s four business units posting revenue gains during the first quarter, the company commented.

Marine Electronics revenues were 3.5 percent above last year primarily due to growth in all brands in key channels, according to Johnson Outdoors. Watercraft sales were 7.0 percent below the prior year primarily due to a change in pre-season sales programs which adjust shipment dates to coincide more closely with the customer’s retail selling season, the company stated. Diving revenues jumped 18.9 percent driven by a resurgence in key international markets and favorable currency translation of 8.8 percent. And Outdoor Gear sales were 22.0 percent below last year despite solid growth in consumer camping which could not overcome a decline in military sales, according to the company.

Total company operating loss during the first fiscal quarter was $3.6 million compared to an operating loss of $5.2 million in the prior year quarter. Key drivers behind the favorable comparison were: stabilization in outdoor recreational markets, higher sales in Marine Electronics and Diving units, improved operating efficiency in all businesses, an increase in gross profit margin to 37.4 percent from 36.0 percent in the prior year, and charges of $0.8 million related to Watercraft consolidation, according to Johnson Outdoors.

The company reported a net loss of $4.2 million, or ($0.45) per diluted share, during the first fiscal quarter, compared to a net loss of $6.9 million, or ($0.75) per diluted share, in the same quarter last year.

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