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Wolverine Q1 profit beats Street, shares up

Shoe maker Wolverine World Wide Inc posted a quarterly profit that beat market expectations, as strong sales at key brands and lower operating expenses helped offset some of the hit from unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

The company, which retails its footwear under brands like Caterpillar, Wolverine, Harley-Davidson and Hush Puppies, said it was backing its 2009 profit forecast adjusting for costs related to a restructuring plan announced in January.

In a statement, Chief Executive Blake Krueger said the company's exposure to different consumer groups and distribution channels helped "mitigate our exposure to any single market, fashion or consumer trend."

However, on a conference call with analysts, Krueger said he expects 2009 to be difficult and probably one of the toughest years in a few decades for the footwear industry.

For the first quarter, the company posted a profit of $10.49 million, or 21 cents a share, compared with $23.7 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. However, adjusting for restructuring costs it posted earnings of 41 cents this quarter.

The company reported a 11.4% fall in revenue in the quarter to $255.3 million, but said the fall would have been 5.2% adjusted for the impact of foreign exchange rates.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn 30 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $252.8 million for the quarter.

Shares of the company were up 14% at $21.52 in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched a high of $22.40 earlier in the session. (Reuters)