Johnson Outdoors reports higher sales and earnings for fiscal 2019

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Demand for Minn Kota and Humminbird prompted a 5 percent increase in fishing sales. Minn Kota’s most recent trolling motor integrates Humminbird’s Mega Side Imaging.

Demand for Minn Kota and Humminbird prompted a 5 percent increase in fishing sales. Minn Kota’s most recent trolling motor integrates Humminbird’s Mega Side Imaging.

Johnson Outdoors Inc. announced higher revenue and earnings for the 2019 fiscal year that ended Sept. 27, driven in part by demand for new fishing products lasting into the industry’s seasonally slow fourth quarter.

The company saw sustained momentum in fishing, improved performance in camping, enhanced digital and e-commerce capacity, effective tariff mitigation, stable gross margins and strong cash flow in the year.

“Performance this year reflects the value of our sustained focus and investment in delivering the best outdoor recreation experiences possible,” said Johnson Outdoors chairman and CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold in a statement.

“Ensuring we are targeting the right consumer with the right product, at the right time, in the right way and at the right price are all critical factors behind continued success,” said Johnson-Leipold. “As a result, fishing has continued on its profitable growth trajectory. Ongoing investment in innovation and digital acceleration across all of our businesses will provide long-term sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Total company revenue grew 3 percent to $562.4 million versus fiscal 2018 revenue of $544.3 million.

Demand for new products and legacy technologies in Minn Kota and Humminbird led to a 5 percent increase in fishing sales, according to the company. However, overall kayak market weakness “masked growth” of Old Town fishing kayak performance.

Total company operating profit was $63.8 million for fiscal 2019, which compared favorably to operating profit of $63 million in the prior fiscal year. Exclusions granted during the fourth quarter for certain product components subject to Section 301 tariffs reduced the total impact of tariffs to $2.9 million for fiscal 2019.

Gross margins remained steady despite the impact from tariffs, the company said. Higher sales-volume related costs and increased bad debt expense largely accounted for the uptick in operating expense dollars. Additionally, investment in marketing increased over the prior year.

For the fourth quarter, Johnson Outdoors increased net sales 14 percent to $104 million, primarily due to continued momentum of fishing products.

Operating profit was $1.9 million in the current year fourth quarter versus an operating loss of $2 million in the prior year fourth quarter. Operating profit in the fourth quarter compared favorably to the prior year due largely to increased sales and the timing of tariff exclusions granted in the current year quarter that positively impacted the quarter by $1.2 million.

Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $3.9 million compared to a net loss of $5 million in fiscal 2018.

“We’re pleased by the strong finish to the year, particularly with the performance of fishing and camping brands,” said Johnson-Leipold. “Looking ahead, we continue to believe the power of our innovation, the enduring strength of our brand equities and the diversity of our outdoor recreation portfolio combine to well-position Johnson Outdoors for the future.”