Footwear maker Wolverine World Wide yesterday (4 January) posted a 5.8% drop in fourth quarter profit on lower sales, and warned of challenging trading conditions in the first half of this year.

For the three months to 3 January, net profit fell to $24.1m from $25.6m. Earnings per share for the quarter were flat at $0.49.

The footwear firm, whose brands include Merrell and Hush Puppies, said revenue was down 3.2% to $346.1m in the quarter, from $357.4m a year ago. Foreign exchange had a negative impact on revenue growth of 3.3%.

For the full fiscal year the company posted a 3.1% rise in profit to $95.8m from $92.9m a year earlier. Earnings were up 11.8% to $1.90 per share, from $1.70 per share.

Full-year sales reached a record $1.221bn, up 1.8% over the prior year's $1.199bn.

According to Blake W Krueger, CEO and president, annual sales and profit were boosted by the Outdoor Group and the Heritage Brands Group. 

Wolverine World Wide said it expects more challenging trading conditions and comparisons in the first half of the current fiscal year, and is forecasting earnings per share of $1.50 to $1.70 for 2009.

Full-year revenue is seen in the range of $1.160bn to $1.240bn, which is down 5.0% to up 1.6% from the prior year. The strength of the US dollar is expected to reduce full-year revenue by $90m compared to 2008.

A restructuring plan announced last month, which will see the firm cut 450 jobs as part of a realignment of its global supply chain, will lead to pre-tax charges of $31m to $36m during 2009.