Apparel designer, marketer, and distributor Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ: COLM ) has been a leader in the active outdoor-products segment for many years. The company has also been on somewhat of a winning streak in its signature market as sales of its outdoor products have been surging in recent quarters.
However, last week the company announced plans to acquire yoga-gear maker Prana Living in an attempt to diversify its brand portfolio. With new product categories and a new consumer base, Columbia looks like an intriguing long-term growth investment given its proven ability to leverage its brands.
Outdoor apparel is active for Columbia
For the first quarter, Columbia grew net sales 22% to $424.1 million on a year-over-year basis. Net income grew 120% to $22.3 million, or $0.63 per diluted share, partially due to an absence of restructuring charges that were present in 2013's first quarter.
The first-quarter performance was so strong that management at Columbia raised the company's guidance for the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year. The company now expects to grow net revenue by 16%-18% and operating income by 25%. The company now expects its full-year operating margin to come in at 8.25% of net sales.
Management had previously anticipated revenue growth in the mid-teens for fiscal 2014 and an operating margin of 8%, so the revised guidance represents a solid improvement in sentiment.
Columbia President and CEO Tim Boyle explained:
Our outstanding first quarter results reflect robust demand for the Columbia and Sorel brands, especially across U.S. wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels, and the successful launch of our China joint venture. Wholesale demand for our Fall 2014 products has accelerated in many key markets around the world, prompting us to increase our sales and operating income expectations for the full year.
A new market
In a separate release, management at Columbia confirmed that it signed an agreement to acquire Prana Living, a yoga-inspired lifestyle brand, for $190 million in cash. The release provided the explanation that Prana is growing at a rapid rate.
The company grew revenue at a compound annual growth rate of 30% from 2010-2013 and is on pace to generate over $100 million in sales in 2104 alone, which makes the deal seem like an incredible one for Columbia. Columbia expects the deal to be accretive in fiscal 2015.
This acquisition not only broadens Columbia's apparel product offerings, it also compliments the company's existing apparel lines. However, most importantly, it gives Columbia a foothold in the incredibly popular and lucrative yoga/active lifestyle category, which is dominated by the likes of lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU ) .
While lululemon has already cemented itself as the undisputed champion of yoga apparel, the company is now looking to grow its loyal consumer base to include young women and more casual folks as well. The company's new Ivivva and &go lines are expected to help get lululemon back to more robust levels of growth in the future.
In much of the same way, Columbia is now diversifying and this will benefit shareholders. Not only does a new brand lessen some of the burden on Columbia's established outdoor brands, it opens up new opportunities for the future by capturing new types of consumers.
Foolish Bottom Line
In the popular apparel segment, investors often overlook Columbia in favor of more popular companies like lululemon. However, this in no way means that the company is subpar. In fact, analysts project that the company will grow faster than lululemon in 2014.
According to Yahoo! Finance, analysts expect Columbia to grow revenue 19% and EPS 18% versus respective estimates of 13% and -1% for lululemon. Because Columbia's forward P/E of 22 is close to lululemon's forward P/E of 20, the former seems to be a solid long-term consideration at current levels.
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