UPDATE 3-VF revenue misses estimates as North Face growth slows

Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:20am EDT

* Quarterly earnings beat Wall Street view by 3 cents a share

* Full-year profit outlook raised by 10 cents a share

* North Face sales up 8 percent in constant dollars

* Raises quarterly dividend 21 percent to $0.87/share

* Shares fall 4.1 percent

By Nivedita Bhattacharjee

Oct 22 (Reuters) - VF Corp missed Wall Street's third-quarter revenue expectations, and growth in its flagship The North Face brand slowed, sending the clothing company's shares down more than 4 percent on Monday.

The news overshadowed a higher-than-expected profit and a dividend increase at VF, whose other brands include Wrangler and Lee.

Revenue came in at $3.15 billion, while analysts on average were expecting $3.17 billion.

Sales at North Face, VF's leading cold-weather brand, rose 5 percent, or 8 percent in constant dollars. The brand had grown 22 percent in the year-earlier quarter.

"Most people would have expected to see a better growth in the North Face business," said Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Christopher Svezia.

North Face suffered because wary retailers ordered close to what they needed, Steve Rendle, group president for Outdoor & Action Sports Americas, said on a conference call with analysts.

Rendle also said some North Face orders had moved into the fourth quarter from the third.

Last year, many retailers were stuck with a lot of cold-weather merchandise that did not sell, given an unusually warm winter. That led them to discount coats and other cold-weather clothes, hurting margins.

Greensboro, North Carolina-based VF, whose global supply chain is considered among the best in the industry, said international revenue had risen 28 percent in the third quarter on a constant-dollar basis.

The company said revenue from its own brands, excluding acquisitions, had increased 25 percent in Asia. It recently said it aimed to add $1.1 billion in revenue to its Asia-Pacific business over the next five years.

For the third quarter, VF earned $381.3 million, or $3.42 a share, compared with $300.7 million, or $2.69 a share, a year earlier.

The results include expenses from the September 2011 Timberland acquisition and a gain on the sale of John Varvatos Enterprises Inc.

Excluding those items, the profit came in at $3.52 a share, while analysts on average were expecting $3.49, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"At the end of the day it is a slight miss to revenue, a slight beat to EPS," Susquehanna analyst Svezia said. "When everything is said and done, the numbers aren't changing that much at all."

The company raised its full-year profit outlook to $9.60 per share from the $9.50 that it had forecast in July. The analysts' average estimate is $9.54 a share.

VF's board announced a quarterly dividend of 87 cents per share - an increase of 21 percent over last quarter's payout. It is payable Dec. 20 to shareholders of record on Dec. 10.

Shares of VF were down 4.1 percent at $159.93 in morning trading.