Johnson Outdoors said strong demand for its fishing, camping and watercraft recreation products continued into the historically slow fourth quarter, driving higher sales and operating profits year-over-year for a strong finish to a challenging year.
Total company revenue for fiscal 2020 grew 6 percent to $594.2 million, versus fiscal 2019 revenue of $562.4 million.
Continued demand for the company’s Humminbird fishfinders and Minn Kota trolling motors led to a 9 percent increase in fishing revenue. Strong demand across all product categories drove a 25 percent increase in watercraft recreation sales.
“The 2020 fiscal year was like no other year in our history,” said Johnson Outdoors chairman and CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold in a statement. “We started the year with a very strong first quarter, but the onset of the pandemic and the initial stay-at-home mandates cut short our momentum and significantly impacted our second and third quarters, the heart of our primary selling season.”
As shutdowns eased, the demand ramped up and participation in boating and fishing grew, said Johnson-Leipold.
“This positive late-season momentum resulted in a strong finish to the year,” she said. “The great outdoors offers the experiences and recreational activities that can rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit, and most importantly, are safe to enjoy. With strict safety procedures and protocols in place, the hard work and dedication of our employees enabled us to respond to robust demand.”
Total operating profit was $71.1 million for the year, which compared favorably to operating profit of $63.8 million in the prior fiscal year. Gross margins remained steady as improved cost absorption through higher volumes and a strong product mix helped offset a $1 million increase in tariff costs.
Operating expenses increased $7.9 million versus the prior year due largely to volume-related expenses but declined as a percentage of sales versus fiscal 2019.
Net income for the fiscal year improved to $55.2 million, or $5.47 per diluted share, a 7 percent improvement versus $51.4 million, or $5.11 per diluted share, in the last fiscal year.
During the company’s fourth quarter, the outdoor recreation industry is typically in ramp-down mode and sales are historically lower. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, the company saw a reversal of that trend, experiencing increased demand in the final months of the fiscal year that ended Oct. 2.
The fishing, camping and watercraft recreation segments experienced strong demand in the latter half of the year, and total company net sales for the quarter grew 58 percent over last year to $164.7 million.
Operating profit was $19.5 million in the current year fourth quarter versus $1.9 million in the prior year fourth quarter, due largely to increased sales. Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $15.5 million compared to $3.9 million in fiscal 2019.
“We will continue to scale operations consistent with demand, given the ongoing unpredictability surrounding Covid-19 and its impact on participation levels and outdoor recreation markets,” said CFO David W. Johnson. “Looking ahead, our debt-free balance sheet and our healthy cash position will continue to be beneficial as we make smart investments to strengthen the business and drive value for our shareholders.”