Timberland reports 3Q income hike

The Timberland Company, the Stratham-based maker of footwear and apparel, Thursday reported a 1 percent increase in profits for the third quarter, with net income of $69.2 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.02, surpassing Wall Street’s average earning estimates of 99 cents.

Revenue for the third quarter rose by 2.4 percent, marking a record $505.9 million in sales, up from a strong 2004, which saw sales of $493.9 million. These numbers include a $2.5 million restructuring of the company’s Caribbean manufacturing facilities. Without the restructuring investment 2005 EPS would be $1.05.

Strong international gains are reported to be responsible for the rise in quarterly profit from last year’s $68.6 million, and diluted EPS of 96 cents. A 6.1 percent decrease in U.S. sales is reportedly due to a downturn in sales of women’s casual footwear and boots.

Fourth-quarter numbers are expected to remain flat with a high single-digit decline in operating profits due to current consumer climate and trend in the U.S. business as well as company plans for investment in Holiday season brand building activities.

Analysts expect to see fourth quarter earnings to fall to around 70 cents per share with sales about $475 million.

Trends in U.S. sales are expected to continue into the new year, said CEO Jeffrey Swartz. “We do anticipate continued growth challenges in Timberland’s U.S. business in the first half of 2006, which will contribute to likely pressure on first half 2006 revenue and earnings.”

Company officials are optimistic, however, about their ability to deliver strong financial results at year-end and will continue to focus on franchise expansion in the new year. – TRACIE STONE

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