Columbia Sportswear Company (COLM)

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Columbia Sportswear Company (COLM),

Q4 2009 Earnings Call

January 28, 2010 5:00 pm ET


Ron Parham – Senior Director of Investor Relations

Gertrude Boyle - Chairman of the Board

Timothy Boyle – President and CEO

Thomas B. Cusick - Senior Vice President of Finance, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer

Bryan L. Timm – Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Peter J. Bragdon - Senior Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs and General Counsel


Robert Drbul - Barclays Capital

Michelle Tan - Goldman Sachs

Reed Anderson - D. A. Davidson & Co.

Kate McShane – Citi Investment Research

Mitch Kummetz - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

Analyst for Howard Tubin - RBC Capital Markets

Jim Duffy - Thomas Weisel Partners

Christopher Svezia - Susquehanna Financial Group

Sam Poser - Sterne, Agee & Leach

Barry Pasternok – Ramsey Asset Management



Good afternoon, my name is Chanel and I will be your conference operator today. At this time I would like to welcome everyone to the Columbia Sportswear fourth quarter and fiscal year 2009 conference call. (Operator Instructions)

I will now turn the call over to Ron Parham, Senior Director of Investor Relations.

Ron Parham

Thanks, Chanel. Good afternoon and thanks for joining us on today’s call. Earlier this afternoon we issued a press release announcing our fourth quarter and full year 2009 financial results and our outlook for the first quarter of 2010.

With me today to discuss those results and answer your questions are Columbia’s Chairman, Gert Boyle, President and CEO Tim Boyle, Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Tom Cusick, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Bryan Timm, and Senior Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs and General Counsel, Peter Bragdon.

Before we begin, our Chairman, Gert Boyle, has a reminder.

Gertrude Boyle

Good afternoon. I’d like to remind everyone that this conference call will contain forward-looking statements regarding Columbia’s business opportunities and anticipated results of operation. Please bear in mind that forward-looking information is subject to many risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from what is projected. Many of these risks and uncertainties are described in Columbia’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ending December 31, 2008 and it’s most recently filed quarterly report on Form 10-Q as well as on subsequent filings with the SEC.

Forward-looking statements in this conference call are based on our current expectations and beliefs. We do not undertake any duty to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this conference call to conform the forward-looking statements to actual results or to report changes in our expectations.

Ron Parham

Thank you Gert, I’ll hand the call over to Tim.

Timothy Boyle

Thanks, Ron. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us this afternoon. I want to touch quickly on a couple of highlights from the fourth quarter and full year then let Tom cover the financials and our outlook for Q1 2010 in more detail.

2009 was a challenging year as our fourth quarter results demonstrate. We finished on an upswing in consumer and retailer demand [technical difficulty] 2010. Global sales grew 1% over last year’s fourth quarter, representing our first quarterly [technical difficulty] in the past seven quarters.

We exceeded our fourth quarter sales outlook thanks to greater re-orders and a return of a more cancel rate in our wholesale business after a difficult spring 2009, along with growth from our expanded direct to consumer operations.

Our balance sheet got even stronger during 2009 [technical difficulty] our long term strategic initiatives despite [technical difficulty]. While there are a number of initiatives [technical difficulty] I’d like to highlight to [technical difficulty] I want to focus my remarks today on a few that we believe will have the biggest impact on our performance during the next couple of years.

First, we’ve continued to invest in innovative technologies and compelling designs within each of our major brands. Within the Columbia brand we are focused on the upcoming launch of Omni Heat, our newest suite of warmth technologies that we believe are the most innovative to hit the outdoor industry in decades.

This fall, consumers will be able to find Omni Heat in over 100 product styles spanning each of our product categories, outerwear, sportswear, footwear, accessories, and equipment. [Our hard work] continues to address the needs of serious outdoor enthusiasts with high performance [technical difficulty] technical lightweight styles, growing beyond $100 million market for the first time in 2009.

Our Sorel brand of outerwear has evolved to offer a more style-driven approach to winter boots, merging reliable outdoor function with fun and fashion and a new focus on female consumers. Sorel sales expanded by 26% in 2009 to more than $60 million.

Second, with our expanded family of innovative products serving as ammunition, in 2009 we began driving future growth using thoughtful, brand-enhancing segmented distribution strategies. Columbia and Mountain Hardware are focused on growing in the specialty outdoor and sporting goods channels in order to assure that our best innovations are appropriately represented.

In addition, Columbia’s award-winning footwear line has begun to penetrate key specialty running stores that had never before carried the brand. Sorel has earned its way into several of the finest footwear retailers in the US and Canada, including Bergdorf Goodman, The Tannery, Holt Renfrew, Gorsuch, and Nordstrom’s.

Third, we continue investing in our direct to consumer operations, opening three branded stores in Europe and a total of 16 outlet stores in the US, Europe, and Canada. We ended the year with 45 stores in the US, 10 in Europe, 2 in Canada. We also watched US e-commerce sites for the Columbia and Sorel brands, and in addition, for many years we have maintained direct to consumer operations in Japan and Korea, which represent a significant portion of their revenues.

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