Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ:COLM) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript
Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ:COLM) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript February 2, 2023
Operator: Greetings. Welcome to Columbia Sportswear Fourth Quarter 2020 Financial Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. Please note, this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the conference over to your host, Andrew Burns. You may begin.
Andrew Burns: Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us to discuss Columbia Sportswear Company's fourth quarter results. In addition to the earnings release, we furnished an 8-K containing a detailed CFO commentary and financial review presentation explaining our results. This document is also available on our Investor Relations website, investor.columbia.com. With me today on the call are Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tim Boyle; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Jim Swanson; and Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Peter Bragdon. This conference call will contain forward-looking statements regarding Columbia's expectations, anticipations or beliefs about the future.
These statements are expressed in good faith and are believed to have a reasonable basis. However, each forward-looking statement is subject to many risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially from what is projected. Many of these risks and uncertainties are described in Columbia's SEC filings. We caution that forward-looking statements are inherently less reliable than historical information. We do not undertake any duty to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this conference call to conform the forward-looking statements to actual results or any changes in our expectations. I'd also like to point out that during the call, we may reference certain non-GAAP financial measures, including constant currency net sales.
For further information about non-GAAP financial measures and results, including a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP measures and an explanation for management's rationale for referencing these non-GAAP measures, please refer to the supplemental financial information section and financial tables included in earnings release and appendix of our CFO commentary and financial review. Following our prepared remarks, we will host a Q&A period, during which we limit each caller two questions, so we you can get to everyone by the end of the hour. Now, I'll call the call over to Tim.
Tim Boyle: Thanks, Andrew, and good afternoon, everyone. I'm incredibly proud of the financial performance and accomplishments that our global workforce delivered in 2022. For the year, net sales grew 11% to a record $3.5 billion. On a constant currency basis, net sales increased 14%. I'd like to thank our dedicated employees whose tremendous efforts enabled these results. We achieved these results, while navigating numerous supply chain challenges. We know there's a strong demand for our products, and our recent financial performance could have even been higher absent the product delivery delays we experienced. Columbia and SOREL had to charge with both brands generating record net sales and double-digit constant currency growth in 2022.
Geographically, we have broad-based momentum. Our largest market, the US, grew 12%. On a constant currency basis, International growth highlights include Europe Direct surging 31% on the year and Canada growing 19%. By channel, our growth in 2022 is relatively balanced with both our wholesale and DTC business generating double-digit constant currency growth. Our global DTC e-commerce business grew 10% constant currency and represented 18% of total net sales. I believe these results are proof that our strategies are working. Looking at the current environment, the threat of a recession is weighing on the market. In these times, our strong financial position is a strategic advantage. We exited year with over $400 million in cash and no bank borrowings.
We're entering 2023 in a position of strength with positive momentum in many markets around the world. The Columbia brand's iconic innovation, value proposition and democratic product offering are enabling us to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor activities. Differentiated innovations like Omni-Heat Infinity and the recently introduced Omni-Heat Helix are separating Colombia from the competition and fueling its growth trajectory. SOREL's function first fashion footwear is resonating with consumers. We believe SOREL is on its way to $1 billion in sales and becoming the next global footwear force. Our products have earned us a loyal base of consumers and we're making focused demand creation investments to create even deeper consumer connections and unlock growth.
We have amazing strategic wholesale partners and a powerful direct-to-consumer business that's helping us create the marketplace in the future. As we begin the year, one of our top priorities is to reduce our inventory position and align it with demand. I'm confident in our ability to perform this task effectively and profitably over the course of the year. Our business model, strong financial position and strategies are well-suited to manage this process. Our product offering includes a large percentage of evergreen styles that do not change season to season. This reduces our exposure to promotional pricing. Given our strong balance sheet, we can be patient as to when and where we sell our product. We expect to continue utilizing our fleet of outlet stores to profitably liquidate remaining excess inventories.
Columbia Sportswear is positioned to deliver another year of profitable growth in 2023. The top end of our financial outlook contemplates 6% net sales growth and a 12.2% operating margin. I will provide more details on the key drivers and assumptions influencing this outlook later in the call. I will now review our fourth quarter 2022 financial performance. Net sales grew 4% or 8% on a constant currency basis. This was within the financial outlook we provided in October and reflects strong execution in a challenging environment. Gross margin contracted 180 points and was -- assuming 180 basis points and was roughly in line with our outlook. The largest driver of contraction was higher promotional activity in the marketplace as we lapped an exceptionally low promotional environment in the prior year.
SG&A expenses increased 5% and represented 34.6% of net sales compared to 34% and in the prior year. We incurred $35.6 million in non-cash prAna impairment charges during the quarter, which impacted diluted earnings per share by $0.43. Diluted earnings per share decreased 15% to $2.02. I will now review fourth quarter and full year net sales growth by region and brand. For this review, I'll reference constant currency net sales growth to illustrate underlying growth in each market. All regions outside the US were unfavorably impacted by foreign exchange rates. US net sales increased 2% in the fourth quarter and 12% for the year. In the quarter, we generated high single-digit percent DTC growth balanced across our brick-and-mortar and e-commerce businesses.
US wholesale net sales decreased mid-single-digit percent. Wholesale performance in the quarter was unfavorably impacted by a greater portion of Fall 2022 orders shipping in the third quarter this year relative to last year. Looking at the third and fourth quarters combined, second half US wholesale net sales increased high single-digit percent, reflecting healthy retailer demand for our products. With that said, we know supply chain disruptions resulting delivery delays tempered our Fall 2022 performance. We were unable to maximize early-season full price sales, and we experienced higher order cancellations resulting from the late receipts of inventories. As we move into Spring 2023, our on-time delivery percentage is greatly improved and is approaching pre-pandemic service levels.
US Fall 2022 retail sell-through trends were generally positive. With the season almost complete, sell-through is tracking roughly in line with Fall 2021, which was exceptionally strong. Turning to our international business. Latin America/Asia Pacific region or LAAP, net sales increased 11% in the quarter and 13% for the full year. China was up mid-single-digit percent for the quarter led by strong dtc.com performance. For the year, China declined mid-single-digit percent, primarily reflecting the impact of government efforts to contain COVID-19 outbreaks. I'd like to thank our team in China who overcame numerous supply chain and COVID-related challenges. I'm encouraged by the emerging momentum I see in this market as we started 2023. I believe the investments in talent and operational improvements we've made over the last several years position us to accelerate the business as China reopens.
We know we have powerful brand recognition in China and that this market represents one of our largest geographic growth opportunities. Japan increased high single-digit percent in the quarter and high-teens percent for the full year. For the quarter, net sales growth was led by DTC as traffic recovered and consumers embrace Columbia's products. Korea grew low single-digit percent in the quarter and high single-digit percent for the full year. There is sustained interest in outdoor products and activities in that market, and we are positioned for growth -- continued growth in 2023. Our new leadership in Korea is focused on managing the marketplace to optimize our DTC store fleet and retail partners distribution to further elevate the brand and drive productivity across all channels.
The LAAP distributor markets were up low 80% for the quarter and high 70% for the full year. Growth in the quarter reflects higher Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 orders as well as favorable timing of shipments. With robust growth in 2022, our LAAP distributor business has returned to pre-pandemic sales levels. Europe, Middle East, Africa region, or EMEA, net sales increased 32% for the quarter and 26% of the year. Europe Direct grew low 30% in the quarter and for the full year, including strong demand across all channels. I'm extremely proud of our team and the progress they've made growing our business in Europe, while improving profitability. If you'll remember in 2015, Europe Direct represented just over €100 million in annual net sales and generated an operating loss.
In 2022, we surpassed €300 million and its profitability is accretive to our consolidated operating margin. Our products, marketing and marketplace strategies are yielding powerful results. Europe Direct is expected to be one of our fastest-growing markets in 2023. Our EMEA distributor business was up high 30% in the quarter and up low-teens percent for the full year. Growth in the quarter was driven by favorable timing of Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 shipments compared to last year. As we previously noted, we've paused taking any new advanced orders for the Russian market for early last year. Our outlook for our EMEA distribution business does not include sales for Russia, but contemplates healthy growth in other distributor markets which will help offset a portion of these lost sales.
Canada net sales were up 23% in the quarter and 19% for the full year. In the quarter, growth was led by wholesale, which benefited from favorable time Fall 2022 shipments compared to last year. We are well-positioned for continued growth in Canada. Colombia and SOREL have high brand awareness and excellent market positions. In fact, Colombia has been voted the number one trusted sportswear brand for seven years in a row in the University of Victoria Brand Index. Looking at performance by brand. Columbia brand net sales increased 13% in the fourth quarter and 16% for the full year. During the quarter, growth was relatively balanced across apparel and footwear. Following last year's launch of Omni-Heat Infinity, we were able to build on the momentum this season, launching an expanded collection for Fall 2022.
Our worldwide marketing campaign focused on how the technology works and why it matters. One campaign featured a partnership with Eagle Star quarterback, Jalan Hertz. Jalan's timely content was also featured in a number of NFL broadcast pods. Good luck in the Super Bowl Jalan. We also utilized micro to macro influencers like YouTube sensation Dude Perfect in the campaign. The Dude Perfect team visited the Columbia store at the American Dream Mall, tested out the Omni-Heat Infinity jackets on the slopes and the content was featured on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The Omni-Heat Infinity technology received numerous accolades during the quarter. Several styles, including the Platinum Peak and Ballistic Ridge jackets were featured in this season's best of lists from Outside Magazine, Gear Patrol and Ski Magazine.
We successfully introduced Omni-Heat Helix, our new disruptive poly fleece visible technology. Helix was a small targeted launch in our DTC business for Fall 2022, and we're excited to build on this unique technology in the seasons ahead. On the product collaboration front, we saw the successful launch of our newest Star Wars collection, inspired by The Clone Wars animated series. Our latest collaboration includes references to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker among others. The collection incorporates Omni-Heat Infinity thermal reflected technology to help fans overcome the harsh winter elements wherever in the Galaxy they are. Shift to our emerging brands. SOREL brand net sales decreased 9% in the quarter and increased 11% for the full year.
Photo by Jannik Skorna on Unsplash
In the quarter, net sales were unfavorably impacted by a greater portion of Fall 2022 orders shipping in the third quarter as well as higher order cancellations. Early season sell-through was challenged given delivery delays. As product availability improved, consumer demand for the brand was evident on sorel.com, which generated robust growth in December. Growth categories, including sneakers and sandals, were top performers in the quarter. SOREL's consumer base is passionate about the brand. The SOREL team remains laser-focused on bringing a relentless growth of compelling products to this unstoppable consumer. In 2023, the brand is exciting product partnerships and shop-in-shops planned with key retail partners. We expect SOREL to be our fastest-growing brand in 2023.
While supply chain constraints help that growth in 2022, we are confident that SOREL can grow even faster in the years ahead. prAna net sales decreased 6% in the quarter, but were up 1% for the full year. Sales declines in the quarter were driven by softness in the wholesale business, which was impacted by late product deliveries partially offset by DTC growth. The clients, the HBO Max reality series sponsored prAna debuted in January. Hosted by Jason Momoa, and product ambassadors, Chris Sharma and Meagan Martin, the series features climbers taking on various challenges as they compete for $100,000 prize and a prAna sponsorship. We believe this series has a unique opportunity to raise awareness for prAna as we reestablish the brand's roots in key activities like climbing.
The prAna team remains focused on repositioning the brand in the marketplace to energize growth. Mountain Hardwear net sales decreased 9% in the quarter, but increased 5% for the year. Similar to our other emerging brands, net sales were impacted by late product deliveries, which drove higher order cancellations. I will now discuss our initial 2023 financial outlook. This outlook and commentary include forward-looking statements. Please see our CFO commentary and financial review presentations for additional details and disclosures related to these statements. We remain focused on achieving the long-term growth algorithm we laid out at our Investor Day in September. As we noted, growth will never be perfectly linear and we are not immune to near-term macro headwinds.
Our 2023 outlook contemplates 3% to 6% net sales. The positive momentum we've experienced in 2022 is expected to be tempered by consumer spending headwinds and retailer caution as they manage their inventory positions. While our initial 2023 outlook is below the three-year growth CAGR we outlined at the Investor Day, our confidence in our long-term growth opportunity has not wavered. Since our IPO in 1998, we've generated a 9% net sales growth CAGR and look to improve this into the future. We anticipate gross margin expansion of 60 basis points to approximately 50%. We expect SG&A expenses to grow faster than net sales growth. While others are cash constrained and limiting their investment spend, we're using our strong financial position and profitability to strengthen our competitive position.
We will continue to invest in our strategic priorities to support the long-term profitable growth. On the digital front, we're investing in consumer data and analytics that will ultimately fuel membership enhancements and build stronger connections with our consumers. More broadly, we're investing in digital capabilities across the business to be more agile and adaptive. When it comes to supply chain capabilities, we are investing in people, processes and systems to improve supply and demand planning, drive inventory efficiency and support growth. This outlook contemplates maintaining our demand creation spend as a percent of sales at 5.9%, consistent with 2022. We may adjust this level of band depending on market conditions. We expect operating margin to be in the range of 11.6% to 12.2%.
Operating margin performance will not always be linear year-to-year and we remain firmly committed to improving operating margin over time. This operating performance leads to a diluted earnings per share range of $5.15 to $5.55. We anticipate strong operating cash flow of at least $500 million in 2023 as our inventory levels normalize. In summary, I'm confident we have the right strategies in place to unlock the significant growth opportunities we see across the business. We are investing in our strategic priorities to accelerate profitable growth; create iconic products that are differentiated; functional and innovative; drive brand engagement with increased focused demand creation investments; enhance consumer experiences by investing in capabilities to delight and retain customers; amplify marketplace excellence that is digitally led omni-channel and global; and to empower talent that is driven by our core values.
That concludes my prepared remarks. We welcome your questions. Operator, could you help us with that, please?
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