UPDATE 1-Callaway sees Q1 profit slightly below Wall Street view

Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:11pm EDT

* Sees Q1 EPS about $0.24 vs est $0.25

* Sees Q1 sales $303 mln vs est $298.1 mln

April 15 (Reuters) - Golf gear maker Callaway Golf Co (ELY.N) forecast a first-quarter profit slightly below market expectations, citing poor weather conditions that delayed the start of the golf season, and said it was cautiously optimistic for 2010.

The maker of Big Bertha clubs and balls projected a profit of about 24 cents a share on sales of $303 million for the quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn 25 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $298.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"The pervasive discounting that occurred in 2009 has subsided, retail inventory levels are healthy, and we have received positive consumer feedback on our 2010 product line," Chief Executive George Fellows said in a statement.

Pent-up demand for equipment from golfers, who had reduced spending on the expensive sport amid the recession, has begun to benefit golf gear makers like Callaway, Fortune Brands Inc's FO.N Acushnet Co, Adidas AG's ADSG.DE TaylorMade unit and Nike Inc's (NKE.N) golf division.

"We believe that golf spending will increase as weather conditions improve and the golf season opens," Fellows said.

Shares of Carlsbad, California-based Callaway closed at $10.14 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Vidya Lakshmi in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)

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