A strong performance by new products released in its fishing segment helped Johnson Outdoors post double-digit growth in sales for its second fiscal quarter ended March 30.
The management said its focus on consumer-driven innovation drove growth. However, it added that the negative impact on distribution channels from tough market conditions in the watercraft recreation and camping segments underscores the critical importance and urgency to execute the group's digital transformation. The group's investments in the months ahead will continue to revolve around three key strategic priorities: richer consumer insights, enhanced innovation processes and digital sophistication.
Johnson's total revenues went up by 10.7 percent to $165.8 million. In fishing, they expanded by 19.0 percent to $125.5 million, leading to a 34.7 percent increase in operating profits to $30.8 million.
In the diving segment, revenues gained 7.4 percent to $19.4 million, but were flat in constant currencies. The segment's operating income dropped to $14,000, down from $311,000 in the year-ago quarter. Products that performed well were the Hydros Pro buoyancy compensator and the G2 Diving Computer with wireless transmission and heart rate monitor.
However, the camping segment - which includes Jetboil outdoor cooking systems and Eureka! camping and hiking equipment - registered a decrease of 11.4 percent in sales to $10.1 million, partly due to the divesture of the Silva brand and decreases in revenues from military tents. Operating income declined by 69.8 percent to $302,000.
The management claimed that Jetboil remains the market leader in outdoor cooking systems, while the company continues to reposition Eureka! for an “emerging younger camper” with new consumer needs and expectations.
Sales of recreational watercraft products were also lackluster, falling by 28.4 percent to $10.8 million, weighed down by a sluggish market for kayaks. The segment posted an operating loss of $170,000 against earnings of $847,000 a year ago.
The management said both the watercraft recreation and camping segments are dealing with the lingering effects of bankruptcies and consolidation among major sporting goods retailers in the U.S. during the last 18 months.
The company's overall gross margin improved by 1.5 percentage points to 44.8 percent, thanks to a favorable mix and improved efficiencies in all units. The operating profit grew by 27.1 percent to $24.7 million, and net income jumped by 54.9 percent to $21.6 million.
The management noted that the group's fishing business has been strong for the last two years, with Minn Kota expanding its brand technological leadership position while leveraging technology platforms to support growth. Product highlights for Minn Kota included in the last quarter the Ulterra, the brand's first stow and deploy motor, and the Ultrex, Minn Kota's first electric steer motor, which features foot pedal control, GPS and wireless capabilities. Humminbird extended its Side Imaging Sonar technology with a new series of fish finders for small and mid-sized screens.