Columbia Sportswear has increased its earnings guidance for fiscal 2008 despite a fall in third quarter profit and net sales.

The US company said sales for the third quarter had dropped 4% to US$452.4m, while net income was $58.3m, compared to $62.6m for the same period last year.

Only the Latin America/Asia Pacific region recorded revenue growth in the period, up 10% to $46.1m, but US sales fell 5% to $271.3m, while in the EMEA region, sales were down 10% to $78.2m.

Canada revenues fell 2% to $56.8m. Outerwear and sportswear sales were down 3%, while footwear fell 11%. But accessories and equipment revenues were up 3%.

Mountain Hardwear was the company's top-performing brand, recording 19% revenue growth.

But Columbia was down 5%, and Sorel sales edged down 1%. "Our third quarter results benefited from improved gross margins, primarily from our sportswear and footwear categories, and sound expense control," said Tim Boyle, Columbia Sportswear president and CEO.

"We continue to maintain a solid balance sheet free of long-term debt, enabling us to move forward as planned with investments in new retail stores and increased marketing."

Columbia now expects fourth quarter sales to decline 6-10%, with earnings per share of $0.60-0.70. But the company has increased its full-year guidance to EPS of $2.80-2.90.