Nine of the 16 brands in Wolverine Worldwide's portfolio delivered double-digit sales increases in the fourth quarter of 2014, led by Chaco, which is adding closed-toe footwear. Sperry Top-Sider recovered in the quarter, posting a high single-digit gain. These and other tidbits were given by the group's management a few days ago, ahead of the scheduled release of its full-year financial results on Feb. 17.
Total revenues are expected to hit a level of $808 million for the quarter, up 9.1 percent from the year-ago period, leading Wolverine to reach the top of its latest guidance on profits for the period. Total 2014 revenues were up by an estimated 2.6 percent to around $2.76 billion, but earnings will be more or less flat.
Flat earnings are also predicted for 2015 due to a variety of factors including the phaseout of the Patagonia footwear license, the stronger dollar, rising pension costs, the planned closure of 140 retail stores and higher investments in brand-building initiatives.
At this stage, the stronger dollar alone is expected to shave three percentage points off from this year's profits. The company has budgeted extra investments of $100 million over the next three years in demand creation, omni-channel initiatives and international expansion, with $30 million to be spent in 2015.
The management noted that its operating cash flow reached record levels in 2014, allowing it to reduce interest-bearing debt by about $250 million to around $700 million.