Fila's 4th-quarter profit up 56% to $18.1 million Regularly high performer barely tops estimates

February 28, 1997|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF

Fila Holding SpA said its earnings jumped 56 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, barely topping Wall Street expectations, which the Italian sneaker and apparel company with U.S. headquarters in Sparks has often vastly exceeded during two-plus years in which its stock price has quadrupled.

In a report released after U.S. stock markets closed, Fila said it earned $18.1 million during the fourth quarter and $115.2 million for the year, up from $11.6 million and $61.2 million in 1995. The quarter worked out to 68 cents per American depositary share, 4 cents more than analysts projected.

Fila's results were stronger than rival Reebok International Ltd.'s 43 percent earnings dip in the fourth quarter but substantially weaker than Nike Inc.'s 77 percent earnings-per-share surge for the quarter that ended in November. And Fila did not exceed expectations by nearly as much as its results often have since the company went public in 1993.

Fila's sales growth slowed to 43 percent in the fourth quarter, a pace less blistering than the 53 percent sales jump Fila posted for the full year. For the year, Fila's profits rose 88 percent.

Furthermore, Fila's disclosures about likely sales early in 1997 confirm the picture the company has been painting for months: that growth will slow down from the pace that took the company from less than $350 million in 1992 sales to $1.384 billion in 1996.

The company said its backlog of customer orders for the first half of 1997 is 30 percent bigger than it was for the first half of 1996. Backlogs grew much faster in Europe and Asia than they did in the United States.

"We remain committed to continuing Fila's successful pattern of expansion, although, looking at the shape of our business in 1997, it will be a challenging year for the company," Fila Managing Director and CEO Enrico Frachey said. The company blamed its early 1997 slowdown on slow retail sales of its Grant Hill III shoe during the Christmas season and delivery delays connected to new warehouse information systems.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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