VF's Lost Vanity

From the looks of its latest earnings statement, VF (NYSE: VFC  ) has been busy. The new batch of earnings include a lot of contingencies based on the company's recent disposal of its Vanity Fair intimate apparel line.

In its fourth-quarter press release, VF first emphasized that its earnings from continuing operations increased 12% to $141.4 million, or $1.24 per share. However, given the company's sale of its intimate apparel line to Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) Fruit of the Loom, fourth-quarter earnings actually dropped 16% to $0.95 per share. Revenues increased 9% to $1.6 billion, with a 32% increase in sales from its outdoor segment.

For 2007, VF said that its revenues will increase 8% (with a 15% to 20% increase in the Outdoor segment), with EPS up 10% thanks to both top-line growth and margin expansion. However, that yearly guidance appears to miss analysts' expectations by about $0.04 per share.

There's no reason to panic right now, although there may be little reason to jump into the stock, either. As fellow Fool David Lee Smith pointed out, it was clear that VF's profits would take a short-term hit from ditching its line of intimates. And while its acquisition of Eagle Creek sounds like a solid move toward the outdoorsy segment, it may take some time to digest the acquisition, which is expected to add $30 million to sales this year.

Meanwhile, VF's sweetening the deal for investors. It plans to buy back shares with the $350 million in proceeds from Vanity Fair's sale. Of course, it's also a dividend payer -- hence the Income Investor nod -- declaring a dividend of $0.55 per common share, a whopping 90% increase from last year's payout.

A little short-term awkwardness shouldn't send VF investors running to the exits. But Fools should keep an eye on the company's aims of pursuing greater growth in the outdoors segment as the year progresses.

Very fine further Foolishness:

VF is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Discover our full Foolish list of dynamic dividend payers with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Berkshire Hathaway is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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