Deckers halts sale hunt against investors’ wishes
Footwear manufacturer Deckers Brands will launch a $400 million share buyback program as it wrapped up a strategic business review and simultaneously reported a 26 percent increase in its second quarter net income.
In an earnings conference call on Oct. 26, the Goleta-based company said that it would no longer actively pursue a sale or merger, as investors have demanded. Deckers brought on financial and legal advisers to conduct the strategic review and said it had conversations with 90 potential acquirers, but determined it would not be the best return for shareholders.
The company is still facing challenges from investors, who are seeking new leadership on the board of directors to compel a sale. Investment firm Marcato Capital Management nominated 10 new board members for approval at the company’s upcoming annual meeting and sued to avert executive compensation penalties as a result of the leadership change.
Deckers remains open to considering sale options in the future if they arise, Chief Operating Officer Dave Lafitte said on the earnings call, but is shifting its focus toward its $100 million profit improvement program through fiscal year 2020.
“We continue to focus on driving improvements in the business through streamlining our cost structure,” said President and CEO Dave Powers. “Our aim is to repurchase stock while continuing to improve our operating profit, which simultaneously returns capital to stockholders and positions Deckers for long-term growth.”
The company expects $20 million in increased earnings to occur in fiscal year 2018 from supply chain and other efficiencies, store closures, and a curb in spending.
Flat revenues of $482.5 million beat expectations of a 10 percent drop, costs slimmed around 2.8 percent compared to the previous third quarter, and some product shipped earlier than expected, Lafitte said. Ugg sales fell 2.9 percent to $400.4 million, but the Hoka One One, Teva and Sanuk brands all saw double-digit percentage increases.
Direct-to-consumer sales continued to rise, reaching $91.3 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30.
Net sales are projected to reach $735 million to $745 million in the third quarter and increase 1 percent to 2 percent for the full fiscal year, which will end March 31.
The company plans to use domestic cash flows and increased borrowings to fund the stock repurchases, maintaining a debt to earnings ratio of one-to-one. It had $230.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, with around $474 million in current liabilities.
Shares for Deckers rose $1.48 Oct. 26 to $70.16.