Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The gear depression

Hit by a weak U.S. consumer environment, Columbia Sportswear reported a 24-percent drop in first-quarter profit and a lower backlog.

Columbia is an outdoor juggernaut which includes r Sorel Mountain, Hardwear, Pacific Trail, Montrail and Moonstone brands. With gear at all price points, its generally a good bellweather for the rest of the industry. And the industry is.... not doing so good.

Compared to last year, quarterly earnings fell 24 percent. Revenue rose 3 percent.

9 comments:

knowwhentosaywhen said...

Really, how much more outdoor wear can each one of us buy before we say, "that's enough"? I love going into REI or all the other outdoors stores, but I can't justify buying much anymore. Once you get a lot of the basics, they last long and perform. Really, should you spend the $400 for the latest technology gore-tex coat when the one you bought a decade ago is still fine? Has the newer gore-tex improved that much to justify the expense? Sure, I like the windblocker fleece, but I also like the feel of my old fleece and normally just add a shell if it's windy anyhow. And some of the good stuff I'm not even sure is worth it. I bought some gore-tex hiking boots - I like them and they're nice in snow, but mostly their hot and sweaty in most of the hiking I do. A pair of $45 Foot Locker sneakers would probably be adequate.

Anyhow, what I'm driving at is that I've been duped into buying a lot of this marketed new-technology outdoor junk. Finally, I said enough and probably haven't bought any new outdoor crap in years. While I'm always on the lookout for new gear, I only want to replace stuff if it offers sufficient improvement (or in the case of outdoor clothes, if it is incredibly out of style - so long neon ski jacket!). What I haven't found good enough improvements for yet: 8 year old gore tex coat, 10 year old Sierra Designs clip flashlight tent, 15 year old closed cell foam pad. Good outdoor technology improvements: Fatter skis, maybe Jetboil stove... Anyhow, give some suggestions of the new technology that's worth it.

zen said...

Does anyone think a consumer culture cutting back on consumption is a bad thing? Doesn't the greening economy and trend toward sustainability mandate this? Then again if we all buy less maybe we all need to make less. A resetting of the numbers isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Gene said...

You might need to recheck your sources. Cause I'm looking at the official Columbia first quarter posting right now and says "up 3 percent" over 2007. Mountain Hardwear was up 23% alone.

Dave Philipps said...

Gene, revenue is up, but dividends are down.

jim cramer said...

huh?

Gene said...

Dividends are not down. Those are up 10.4% over Q1 2007. I think the point of your article is still valid, and it addresses trends we're beginning to see in the industry. I just think you may have picked the wrong example to illustrate that point.

Jim Rome said...

Michael Milken thinks Dave's point on dividends is not whack. And by not whack, I mean whack.

BitterREICustomer said...

Knowwhentosaywhen,

It is all about looking cool out there. If Patagonia told people to get out there and wear a Gore Tex sweater vest and a Urban Sombrero people would do it. After all, there are people that wear gaitors and use trekking poles on flat, dry ground....many times in spandex. You can call it UnderArmour all you want, but wear something over it so I don't see all your bits and pieces.

zen said...

Bits and pieces be free! Legalize naked hiking.