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V.F. has capacity 'to pursue additional acquisitions,' CFO says

Even after announcing plans to buy Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co., V.F. Corp. may be looking for another company to purchase, executives suggested during a call with analysts Aug. 14.

Scott Roe, the apparel retail firm's CFO, said making acquisitions is a focus for the company. V.F.'s proposed $820 million deal to buy Williamson-Dickie is an all-cash transaction.

"M&A remains our top capital allocation priority and we have the capacity to continue to pursue additional acquisitions," Roe told analysts during a call Aug. 14.

V.F.'s M&A vigor comes after years of inaction from the company on the acquisitions front. The Greensboro, N.C.-based company has made no acquisitions since its 2011 purchase of outdoor apparel brand Timberland, company executives said on the call. Now, the company is focused on making changes to its portfolio in accordance with a series of goals it plans to reach by 2021, CEO Steven Rendle told analysts during the call.

Part of the drive to make deals comes from the combination of low valuations on companies throughout the apparel industry and V.F.'s cash on hand, Roe said.

Retail apparel companies — along with the broader retail industry — have been struggling to survive in recent years, with many reporting losses or filing for bankruptcy. The result, Roe said, is a buying opportunity for companies with cash to spare.

"It does create some valuation opportunities as investors are in some cases we think too pessimistic about the prospects," he told analysts during the call, adding that "we like our position from an M&A standpoint right now."

But even with valuation discounts, some acquisition targets can afford to be choosy about potential buyers.

"Over the years, many companies have come knocking on our door expressing interest in acquiring Williamson-Dickie and our portfolio of brands," that company's CEO, Philip Williamson, said during the call. The privately held company has turned such offers down in the past, Williamson said, adding that he decided to move ahead on a deal with V.F. based on what he believes are common values between the two companies.

Both companies said they expect the deal to close early in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2017.