Shares of Timberland (NYSE: TBL ) received the boot in recent trading, off by roughly 10%. Ironically, boot sales, or lack thereof, were the culprit.
First-quarter revenues declined 1.2% year over year. (Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, revenues were up 2.4%.) The company credited its SmartWool line, apparel, and accessories as sources of strength in both the domestic and international markets. However, significant footwear declines offset these gains.
Global footwear sales decreased 4.5% year over year. Men's casual footwear and Timberland PRO (its line for the industrial market) have been doing well, but not enough to counter the weakness in boots, outdoor performance, and kids categories. One of the challenges Timberland pointed to is European imports, and what it described as "anti-dumping duties on European Union footwear sourced in China and Vietnam." Timberland believes that goods manufactured in Europe currently benefit from an unfair trade advantage.
This is only part of the problem. In the quarterly earnings conference call, management indicated that the company needs to refocus its "creative efforts" in developing its brand and product, particularly in the boot business. In the midst of intense competition, Timberland wants to differentiate itself from the pack with innovative design. Management pointed to its Trailscape shoe, using a Gore-Tex XCR waterproof membrane and a Vibram outsole, as an example of the technology needed to recapture its presence in the market.
Beyond revitalizing its boot and outdoor performance lines, Timberland wants to capitalize on the recent success of its casual and industrial categories. It will expand its Timberland PRO line to increase its presence in the industrial market. Additionally, its casual line will be enhanced with a more premium, fashion-oriented look.
With Timberland expecting significant weakness to last through the second and third quarters, there is no reason to rush out and buy shares now. In the conference call, management indicated that the fourth quarter should see some improvement, which gives a prospective investor ample time to thoroughly investigate the company. Since the company is best known for its boot and outdoor performance categories, Fools may want to exercise caution until Timberland can prove it has successfully revitalized these core businesses.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares of any companies mentioned.