Johnson Outdoors posted double-digit sales growth for its fourth fiscal quarter ended Sept. 29, driven by strong demand for new products in the fishing and diving divisions, which more than offset lower sales in the camping and recreational watercraft segments. The group's total revenues jumped by 22.5 percent from the year-ago quarter to $91.8 million.
Sales of camping products were down slightly to $8,681,000 during the quarter as growth at Jetboil could not offset declines in tent sales resulting from the restructuring of the retail sector across the camping market, said the company, evidently pointing to the disruption that is taking place in the U.S. However, the segment's operating income grew more than twofold to reach a level of $255,000.
Sales of recreational watercraft products were also lackluster, falling slightly to $9.67 million for the quarter, but here also, operating earnings grew strongly, going up to $394,000 from $159,000 in the year-ago period.
Higher sales were recorded in the fishing and diving segment, especially from the Minn Kota, Humminbird, Cannon and Scubapro brands. The management attributed the progress to a continued focus on innovation.
Sales of fishing products jumped by 38.8 percent to $51.7 million, producing a vastly improved operating profit of $4,373,000. The diving segment turned around to an operating profit of $1,379,000 from a loss of $602,000 in the same quarter a year ago as its revenues grew by 15.3 percent to $21.8 million.
Overall, the group's gross margin jumped by 3.8 percentage points to 42.3 percent. The operating loss came in at $76,000 in the seasonally small fourth quarter, down from a loss of $4.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Net income reached $589,000, bouncing back from a loss of $2.1 million for the same period a year ago.
The results of the previous quarters helped the group to post a 160 percent increase in net income to $35 ?2 million for the full financial year. Revenues improved by 13.1 percent to $433.7 million, also driven by sales of new products, especially among the Minn Kota and Humminbird fishing brands, which accounted for 60 percent of the fishing segment's products this year versus a third in typical years. Minn Kota's Ultrex electric cable steer trolling motor was particularly well received, while Humminbird saw strong demand for its Helix Series of fish-finders and strong response to its Mega Imaging sonar technology.
Sales of camping products for the year went down to $37.9 million from $40.0 million, generating a slightly reduced operating profit of $1,946,000 for the year, impacted by retail bankruptcies and the reorganization of the market. The management said that continued solid growth at Jetboil was insufficient to offset the market drag at Eureka!. It noted that efforts are being made to reposition Eureka! toward new emerging camping consumers but the company said that more time will be required to maximize value and deliver improved results for this supplier of tents.
The diving segment delivered an operating profit of $1,847,000 for the year against a loss of $9,384,000, while its revenues rose to $76.7 million from $69.1 million. Scubapro's sales increased by 11 percent on the back of award-winning innovations in core life support categories.
Sales were also down in recreational watercraft for the year, falling to $48.3 million from $50.4 million, and its operating profit declined slightly to $1,950,000. However, the Old Town brand continued to gain market share with the success of its new Predator fishing boards in a lackluster kayak market.
Looking ahead, the company expects higher revenues for next year, albeit with a slower pace of growth in its fishing business.