Apparently, not all warm winter weather drifts equally against ski manufacturers. Sporting-goods manufacturer K2
That's not to say the warm weather had no impact. K2 has been an acquisitive company over the years, rolling up a diverse lineup of brands under its tent. They include Marmot, a maker of outdoor clothing, which has yet to perform to expectations. Most recently, sales were off for the brand because of the unseasonably warm weather, although K2 expects the cold snap that hit in January to turn things around. Fortunately, other winter items sold well, and overall sales were up 9.9% for the quarter.
Speaking of acquisitions, K2 has been on the prowl again. It had taken a breather for a bit as it digested numerous companies in a short span of time (and seemingly suffered severe bouts of indigestion as a result). It appears a little hydration was all the company needed to settle things down, as K2 completed a previously announced acquisition of a water-sports equipment maker, and additionally snapped up Penn fishing gear.
K2 is predominantly viewed as a ski maker, but because of the volume and nature of the companies it acquires, it has a long reach across many sports and lines. It sells Rawlings and Worth baseball and softball equipment, Shakespeare (and now Penn) fishing gear, Adio skate shoes, and more. The breadth of the products it offers allows it to spread the seasonality of all of these sports and lines over the course of the year, instead of being beholden to a single quarter or season.
Yet that also makes integration (let alone analysis) challenging. At least with the recent Sevylor and Penn acquisitions, the companies it is taking under its wing neatly fit into existing lines it owns, which should make the process smoother. However, the company continues to believe that making acquisitions -- and paying down debt -- is a better use of its cash flow that engaging in share buybacks. With a stock that has dropped 24% from its 52-week peak to recent lows, and a share count that has been more than tripled over the past few years, management might do well to at least give a nod to ameliorating some of those effects with a buyback.
K2 offered 2007 guidance that was well above analyst expectations. Where analysts had expected sales of $1.4 billion for the coming year, K2 has said it expects sales to be in the range of $1.46 billion to $1.51 billion, with adjusted earnings per share in the $0.90 to $0.94 range, which was at the lower end of the analyst estimates. Yet going beyond the coming year, K2 says it feels it can grow earnings at an 8% to 12% yearly clip based on the strength of the acquisitions it makes.
The company has shuffled some of its units around and installed a new president and CEO after elevating the former one to executive chairman. With what could be called a target-rich environment facing it, expect no letup in K2's acquisitive appetite, though we'll need to watch if it starts to choke again on a hairball.
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