• Q3 profit down 6.8% to US$217.9m
  • Revenues fall 5% to $2.093bn
  • CEO says worst of recession may be over

Branded apparel giant VF Corporation recorded a 6.8% decline in third quarter profit to US$217.9m, but the company's CEO said the worst of the recession could be over.

Revenues for the quarter fell 5% to $2.093bn, with foreign currency translation accounting for 2% of the decline.

For the nine months, revenues fell 7% to $5.305bn, while net profit was down 19% to $394.4m.

"Our relentless drive to control costs, reduce inventories and focus investments on our highest return opportunities has served us very well during these difficult and volatile times," said VF Corporation chairman, president and CEO Eric C Wiseman.

"We will continue this disciplined approach through the balance of this year and into 2010 to maximise opportunities for both top- and bottom-line growth."

Wiseman pointed to the continued strength of the company's "big four" brands - Wrangler, Lee, The North Face and Vans, representing about 60% of revenues - and sounded a positive note for the future, telling analysts: "Our third quarter results clearly signal that the worst effects of the recession may be behind us."

VF's outdoor and action sports divisions recorded flat revenues in the quarter, while jeanswear revenues fell 7% and imagewear slumped 15%.

However, sportswear sales rose 4%, contemporary revenues increased by 3%, international revenues were up 2%, and direct-to-consumer sales rose 6%.

VF now expects 2009 revenues to fall 6%, with earnings per share at about $4.85-5.00.

Click here to view the company's full third quarter statement.