Orange County Business Journal

Billabong Parent Forecasts Earnings Decline

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, December 21, 2011

U.S. sales have proven to be one of the few bright spots for Billabong International Ltd., the Australia-based parent of Billabong USA in Irvine.

Billabong said Monday it expects its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to fall as much as 26% for the six months through December. That brings expected EBITDA down to $70 million to $75 million, compared with $94.6 million in the year-earlier period.

Billabong makes clothes and other products under brands such as RVCA, Element, Nixon and Von Zipper.

Billabong Chief Executive Derek O'Neill blamed financial turmoil in Europe debut issues and fears of a global recession on the negative outlook.

Billabong also said Monday it hired Goldman Sachs to review its capital structure.

O’Neill told analysts that “raising equity is not the preferred path” for the company.

Billabong’s U.S. business has fared well so far during the six-month period compared with Billabong’s other regions. Sales at company-owned stores open at least a year were up in October and November in the U.S., although they dipped in the first two weeks of December.

Same-store sales in Europe were down in November and into the first part of December.

Sales in Australia fell in late November and continued the trend into December, with the dip attributed to cooler-than-usual summer temperatures there.

O’Neill reaffirmed the company’s confidence in its retail strategy, which saw Billabong buy up a number of chains in the last several years. The buys included West 49 last year for $93 million. The Canada-based chain has U.S. stores.

“We remain confident that the investment in the retail business over the recent years is the right strategy to increase the controllable floor space for our brands and we feel we’re very well positioned when there’s a return to a more favorable retail environment,” he said.

Billabong is expected to report its results for the six months through December on Feb. 17.