VF 4Q Net Income Surges, 2012 Outlook Disappoints

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) â¿¿ VF Corp.'s net income more than quadrupled in the fourth quarter due to the recent acquisition of Timberland, but there were indications that investors were not thrilled with the footwear company's outlook also released Thursday.

VF said it expects adjusted earnings of about $9.30 per share, short of analysts predictions for $9.53 per share. Revenue is predicted to climb about 15 percent, or 17 percent on a constant dollar basis. This implies revenue of about $10.78 billion, or $10.96 billion on a constant dollar basis. Wall Street had been looking for revenue of $11.24 billion.

The results from the most recent quarter were more of a mixed bag.

VF earned $257.3 million, or $2.28 per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $54.2 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. The Timberland deal, which closed in September, added 34 cents per share.

If that deal and some one-time items are removed, the Greensboro, N.C. company edged out Wall Street expectations by a penny.

Revenue soared 37 percent to $2.88 billion thanks toTimberland and a strong performance from its outdoor and action sports division. The unit, which includes The North Face and Smartwool brands, reported an 81 percent revenue increase. Timberland added $549 million to revenue in the quarter.

Yet gross margin fell to 45.2 percent from 46.6 percent on higher production costs. Clothing companies have wrestled with increased costs for cotton and other raw materials. VF and others have been forced to raise prices in an environment in which consumers are still not spending like they used to.

There was good news for retailers and just about everyone else Thursday. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to the lowest point in almost four years last week, the latest signal that the job market is steadily improving.

Shares had dipped 2 percent before that report was released by the Labor Department, but reversed course, along with the broader market, on yet another sign of resilience from the U.S. economy. Shares rose almost immediately, and were up $1.75 to $145 before the market opened.

The company declared a dividend of 72 cents per share Thursday.

For the year, VF earned $888.1 million, or $7.98 per share. That compares with earnings of $571.4 million, or $5.18 per share, in the previous year.

Adjusted earnings were $8.20 per share.

Annual revenue rose 23 percent to $9.37 billion from $7.62 billion.

Timberland Co. is expected to make up $1.10 per share of adjusted earnings and $1.7 billion of revenue in 2012.

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