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North Face owner maintains forecast, shares hit life-high

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North Face owner maintains forecast, shares hit life-high Reuters  –  Mon, Oct 21, 2013 12:41 PM EDT
RELATED QUOTES Symbol Price Change M 44.89 -0.2100 VFC 212.23 +1.4800 WMT 76.08 -0.3400
* Third-quarter adjusted earnings $3.91/share vs est $3.78
north face * Revenue rises 5 pct to $3.27 bln vs est $3.34 bln
north face jackets * Expects FY gross margin to rise about 150 basis points to
48 pct
the north face outlet * Increases quarterly dividend by 21 pct
the north face outlet online * Shares rise 5 pct to life-high
north face jackets By Maria Ajit Thomas
the north face outlet Oct 21 (Reuters) - VF Corp, maker of The North Face
outdoor wear, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit
and maintained its full-year forecast at a time when other U.S.
retailers brace for a tough holiday season.
VF shares, which had already gained 35 percent this year up
to Friday, rose as much as 5 percent to a life-high.
The company benefited from strong sales of its higher-margin
outdoor and action sports brands, which apart from The North
Face include Timberland, Vans and JanSport.
The company also owns the Wrangler and Lee denimwear brands.
The National Retail Federation said last week that 29
percent of consumers it polled believed the political gridlock
over the U.S. budget would affect their holiday spending. Eight
of every 10 surveyed said they would spend less.
"I wouldn't call (the U.S. consumer spending environment)
robust but I wouldn't necessarily call it tough," VF Chief
Financial Officer Robert Shearer told Reuters in an interview.
"What we're seeing overall is that the U.S. consumer seems
pretty resilient right now...," he said.
Shearer said the company maintained its forecast because of
planned spending on marketing, which will total $30 million in
the fourth quarter.
The budget crisis compounded the woes of a struggling retail
industry as higher taxes and gasoline prices forced consumers to
curb spending. In August, retailers such as Macy's Inc and
Wal-Mart Stores Inc cut their forecasts for the year.

OUTDOOR SELLS
VF, in contrast, appears to be weathering the tough spending
climate. The company's outdoor sports brands, in particular, are
expected to do well in the holiday season.
"... Our checks point to solid orders for key brands (The
North Face) in the fourth quarter," UBS Investment Research
analyst Michael Binetti wrote in a note to client.
VF said it expects an adjusted profit of $10.85 per share on
revenue of $11.5 billion for the full year.
Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $10.95 on
revenue of $11.5 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company expects full-year gross margins to rise about
150 basis points to 48 percent. In the third quarter ended Sept.
28, gross margin improved 90 basis points to 47.6 percent.
VF, which sells through its own stores as well as through
department stores and mass merchants, said sales in its outdoor
and action sports business rose 6.5 percent to $1.97 billion,
accounting for 60 percent of overall sales.
VF Corp also increased its quarterly dividend by 21 percent
from the previous quarter to $1.05 per share.
The company said its board approved a four-for-one split of
its share, payable in the form of a stock dividend.
For the third quarter, VF reported a 14 percent rise in
profit and posted adjusted earnings that beat analysts'
estimates. Revenue rose 5 percent to $3.27 billion, slightly
below the analysts' forecast.
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