Ashworth Inc's (Nasdaq:ASHW) financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2000 show that net revenue for the third quarter rose by 16.4 per cent to $35,004,000 while net income was $1,820,000 as compared to $1,481,000 in the same period of the prior year.

Diluted earnings were $0.14 per share compared with $0.11 last year. Net revenue for the domestic segment increased 17.4 per cent to $31,062,000. Net revenue for the foreign segment increased 9.4 per cent to $3,942,000 as compared to $3,602,000 in the same period of the prior year.

Consolidated net revenue for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 increased 15.6 per cent to $98,775,000 as compared to $85,419,000 for the same period of the prior year. Consolidated net income increased 66.7 per cent to $5,537,000 as compared to $3,322,000 in the same period of the prior year.

The company reported an increase in diluted earnings per share of 70.8% to $0.41 for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 as compared to $0.24 for the same period of last year. Net revenue for the domestic segment increased 14.9 per cent to $84,688,000 for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 as compared to $73,695,000 for the same period of fiscal 1999. Net revenue for the foreign segment increased 20.2 per cent to $14,087,000 for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 as compared to $11,724,000 in the same period of the prior year.

Randall Herrel, president and chief executive officer, said: "We are pleased with the balanced growth in both the foreign and domestic segments as well as improvement in the gross margins. Our accounts receivable increased 17.8 per cent to $31,802,000 as compared to $26,999,000 at July 31, 1999 and was in line with the 17.9 per cent increase in consolidated wholesale net revenue for the third quarter of fiscal year 2000."

Herrel continued: "During the third quarter of fiscal 2000, the strong domestic revenue increase was driven by an almost triple-digit growth in our corporate channel as well as a double-digit growth in our core golf distribution channel. With the combination of a deeper basic inventory and an expanded sales force, we expect our corporate channel will continue to provide diversification and an attractive growth opportunity for us. In addition, we believe that recent announcement of Ashworth's selection as a primary vendor for the US Open as well as the Solheim Cup in Europe further confirms the strength of the Ashworth brand and design direction."

Consolidated gross profit margin for the third quarter of 2000 improved by 210 basis points to 38.2% from 36.1% in the same period last year. This increase is primarily a result of improved sourcing and inventory control. The consolidated gross profit margin for the first nine months of 2000 improved by 290 basis points to 38.8% from 35.9% in the same period last year.

Herrel also reported that the company's Board of Directors has authorised the company to repurchase up to 1,000,000 shares of Ashworth Common Stock over the next 12 months. The repurchase program follows the 12-month program initiated in September 1999 whereby the company repurchased 826,700 shares.

Herrel concluded: "Despite a $344,000 negative currency translation stemming from the weak British Pound and Euro, the third quarter results reflected the highest revenue, net income and earnings per share in the comparable quarter of the company's history. We believe these results highlighted some of our success in executing various initiatives set out last year. With our management team in place and our focus on operations continuing to yield improved financial results, we are now also looking at additional strategic options to accelerate growth and maximise long-term value for our shareholders. In this regard, we believe that the strength of our brand, our balance sheet, and our organization will enable Ashworth to capitalize on future strategic opportunities that complement our existing business."

About Ashworth Inc
Ashworth Inc is a Southern California-based designer of men's and women's golf-inspired lifestyle sportswear distributed domestically and internationally in golf pro shops, resorts and upscale department and specialty stores. Visit the company's website at www.Ashworthinc.com for more information.