If you're among the people watching Timberland
Fourth-quarter net income decreased 33% to $24.1 million, or $0.40 per share. Revenue declined 9.3% to $442.7 million. Boots and kids' footwear were a weak spot in the U.S., although the company said it had strong gains in its SmartWool products, as well as its Timberland casual and Timberland PRO products.
The company said it sees revenue declining in the low-single-digit range in 2008, and it expects flat to modest improvement in operating margin (not counting its ongoing restructuring costs). In its press release, CEO Jeffrey Swartz said, "Now we begin 2008 with a clear sense of where our strategy has missed the mark and a plan to address the challenges we are confronting as we rebuild Timberland's strong relationship with consumers." Let's hope so.
After all, the situation doesn't look that different from last February, although Timberland has been taking steps like shuttering underperforming retail stores, licensing its U.S. apparel business, and reorganizing to decrease costs.
Timberland's not the only shoe stock that's taken a hit recently. Skechers
There are still a lot of things I like about Timberland. It's a veteran in socially responsible practices, and it has strong insider ownership. Also, it has a strong balance sheet, with $143 million in cash and no debt, which of course makes it easier to navigate tough times. Unfortunately, though, its cash stash fell 21% from this time last year, and free cash flow also took a major hit over the course of the last year.
Timberland still needs to prove it can fire up growth again, and the struggle seems to be getting a bit long in the tooth. Meanwhile, it now trades at 24 times trailing earnings, which far outpaces the price-to-earnings ratios of all the peers cited above ,with the exception of Deckers. I'm still keeping my eye on Timberland, but for now, investors need more proof it's going to put its best foot forward.
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