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The global footwear manufacturing Group, headquartered in Rockford, U.S., says the fourth quarter ended December 29, 2018, was the highest quarterly revenue growth of the year driven by its largest brands, Merrell and Sperry.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, Wolverine’s reported revenue totalled US$579.6 million (+0.4%) and underlying revenue up +3.8% (+4.6% further adjusting for currency). Reported gross margin was 39.2%, compared with 38.4% in the prior year; on an adjusted basis, gross margin expanded 70 basis points, year-on-year. For full 2018, reported revenue was US$2,239.2 million, down -4.7%, while underlying revenue increased +2.5% and further adjusting for currency, up +2.3%. Reported gross margin was 41.1%; “a record for the Company” and compares with 38.9% in the prior year. On an adjusted basis, gross margin expanded 150 basis points compared to the prior year. According to Wolverine, reported diluted earnings per share was a record of US$2.05, while adjusted diluted earnings per share were US$2.17, against uS$1.64 in the prior year (+32%).
Mike Stornant, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Wolverine, said the Company deployed its capital during 2018 “in an efficient manner” by returning US$204 million to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends, reducing debt by US$212 million, and making US$60 million of discretionary contributions to bring its defined benefit pension plans to essentially fully-funded status. “As we look forward into 2019, we remain committed to our strategy of investing in organic growth, making strategic acquisitions and continuing to focus on deploying capital to enhance shareholder value, including a new four-year Board authorisation to repurchase up to U$400 million of common shares and a 25% increase in our quarterly dividend”, he added.
Wolverine Worldwide footwear brands include Merrell, Sperry, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine, Keds, and Stride Rite.