Wolverine World Wide, Inc reported record second quarter and year-to-date sales and earnings.

Net sales and other operating income for the second quarter of 2001 increased 7.9 per cent to $151.7m versus $140.6m for the comparable period last year.

Net earnings for the current quarter rose 16.6 per cent to $8.9m or $0.21 per share compared to $7.6m or $0.18 per share reported for the second quarter of 2000.

Net sales and other operating income for the first half of 2001 totaled $309.9m, a 7.6 per cent increase over the $287.9m reported for the first half of 2000. Net earnings for the first half of 2001 rose 19.7 per cent to $14.8m versus $12.4m for the same period in 2000.

"The record results posted for the first half of the year were in line with the performance goals previously outlined in our strategic growth plan," said Timothy J. O'Donovan, Wolverine World Wide president and CEO.

"Our Merrell and Harley-Davidson lifestyle footwear brands reported strong double-digit sales growth, while our core North American Hush Puppies business, Wolverine Boot business and CAT footwear business recorded low to mid-single digit sales increases. Our Casual Footwear, Wolverine Footwear and Performance Footwear Groups all contributed to the record earnings."

Stephen L. Gulis Jr, Wolverine World Wide CFO, reported that gross margins improved 210 basis points in the second quarter. "Gross margins increased during the second quarter as we realized the benefits of the sourcing realignment as well as increased sales of higher margin lifestyle product.

"Year-to-date margins have expanded 130 basis points, in line with the expected 2001 annualized improvement. SG&A expense levels as a percentage of net sales were 26.8 percent for the first half and are expected to come down as sales accelerate during the back half of the year," he said.

"Our balance sheet management programs enabled us to reduce inventories by 7.6 per cent and receivables by 1.1 per cent while sales increased 7.6 per cent to date," Gulis continued. "As a result, interest bearing debt was lowered $40m from the prior year's second quarter, and interest costs to date were reduced $1.6m."

O'Donovan concluded by saying that the record performance levels set during the first half of 2001 and the 18 per cent increase in order backlog at the close of the second quarter position the company to meet its 2001 sales and earnings goals.