Rocky Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ: RCKY) today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2011.

First quarter 2011 net income improved to $0.5 million, or $0.07 per diluted share versus a net loss of $0.6 million, or ($0.10) per diluted share in the year ago period. The earnings per share improvement was attained even with 1.9 million more weighted average common shares outstanding, an increase of 33.5% shares outstanding, as a result of the Company's follow-on common stock offering in May 2010. Gross margin improved 340 basis points to 36.8% compared to 33.4% last year. Net sales were $52.3 million for the first quarter versus net sales of $56.1 million in the first quarter of 2010, due to reduced sales under military contracts.

Mike Brooks, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Our sales and marketing strategies continued to drive solid gains for our company owned brands in the wholesale channel. Consumer demand for our new product lines has been very positive and helped to partially offset the expected sales decline in our military segment and replace the Dickies licensed business which, as previously announced last year, ceased as of the end of 2010. At the same time, our retail segment delivered an improved operating performance as a result of the ongoing migration to more web based transactions. The combination of higher margin sales, our improved operating platform, and significantly lower interest expense, which is the result of our May 2010 stock offering and our October 2010 new credit facility, allowed us to report our first profitable first quarter in three years. We expect these trends will continue to fuel improved year over year earnings during the remaining quarters of 2011.”

First Quarter Review

Net sales for the first quarter were $52.3 million compared to $56.1 million a year ago. Wholesale sales for the first quarter increased 5.0% to $39.8 million compared to $37.9 million for the same period in 2010. The increase in wholesale sales was primarily driven by growth in our company-owned Work and Hunting brands which more than offset the $1.7 million decline of our Dickies licensed business. Retail sales for the first quarter were $11.7 million compared to $12.9 million for the same period last year. The modest decline in retail sales was the result of the ongoing transition to more Internet driven transactions and the decision to remove a portion of our Lehigh mobile stores from operations to help lower costs. Military segment sales for the first quarter decreased $4.4 million to $0.8 million compared to $5.2 million in the same period in 2010.

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