UPDATE 1-Iconix bolsters upscale market offering with Buffalo JV

Mon Feb 4, 2013 10:38am EST

* Takes 51 pct stake in Buffalo David Bitton brand for $76.5 mln

* Raises FY 2013 earnings per share forecast to $2.00-$2.10

* Raises FY 2013 revenue view to $415 mln-$425 mln

By Maria Ajit Thomas

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Iconix Brand Group Inc, known for its apparel labels such as Candie's and Starter, acquired control of the Buffalo David Bitton brand to expand into higher-end brands.

Iconix said it paid Buffalo International ULC $76.5 million in cash for a 51 percent stake in the brand.

"This diversifies them up the chain a little bit... their exposure to the lower-end brands has been disproportionate and (Buffalo) is certainly not a lower-end brand," C.L. King & Associates analyst Steven Marotta said.

Under the Buffalo David Bitton brand, the company sells denim, sportswear, activewear and accessories at upscale department stores such as Macy's Inc and Lord & Taylor.

Iconix owns or licenses dozens of brands that are sold at retail stores such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Sears Holding Corp.

"The company is going to drive earnings higher as it puts the balance sheet to work through a combination of acquisitions and stock repurchases. Today's news reinforced that," Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst Jim Chartier said.

Iconix bought the Umbro sneaker brand from Nike Inc for $225 million last October and the worldwide license for the Ed Hardy brand in April 2011.

The company said it raised its full-year revenue and earnings per share forecast to reflect the Buffalo deal and share repurchases. It now expects to earn between $2.00 and $2.10 per share, up from $1.85 to $1.95 per share.

Iconix expects revenue of between $415 million and $425 million, up from $395 million to $405 million.

Analysts on average were looking for full-year profit of $1.92 per share, on revenue of $399.62 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the company, which has a market valuation of about $1.65 billion, were down slightly at $23.99 on Monday morning on the Nasdaq.