Columbia Sportswear ( COLM) plunged 14% late Thursday after the parka maker slashed fourth-quarter earnings guidance.

The Portland, Ore., company made $66.5 million, or $1.74 a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with the year-ago $68.6 million, or $1.68 a share. Sales slipped to $410 million from $416 million a year earlier. Columbia said it concluded various income tax audits of several tax years that resulted in a nonrecurring $5.6 million reduction in third-quarter accrued income taxes.

Columbia said U.S. sales fell 7.4% from a year ago, while Canadian sales rose 6.3%, European sales rose 5.6% and other international sales jumped 16.5%.

"As expected from the fall sales order backlog reported last April, third quarter outerwear and footwear sales were disappointing, offset by increases in sportswear," CEO Tim Boyle said. "The competitive environment in our core U.S. outerwear business is intense, and U.S. retail consolidation continues to impact our business. Also as expected, third quarter European sales were weak in our German and Scandinavian markets. We are making investments in these areas to strengthen the core Columbia brand and improve our performance in these key markets."

Spring backlog rose 5.8% from to $359.3 million, as footwear orders in the U.S. and Europe disappointed.

The company guided to an 18%-21% drop in fourth-quarter earnings, whereas analysts had seen the quarter's profit flat with a year ago at 97 cents a share. The company said it sees continued gross margin challenges due to decreased sales of higher-margin outerwear products and isolated supply chain issues.

Columbia said it expects to see 4% revenue growth in the first quarter and a 17% profit drop, and added that it can't offer any further 2006 guidance because of low visibility.

The company also added $200 million to its stock buyback plan.

Late Thursday, Columbia shares fell $6.21 to $36.70.

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