SCHILLER PARK, IL -- Sales in fourth quarter 2009 were down 15 percent for the Life Fitness Division of Brunswick Corp., according to financials released by the company last week.

Brunswick’s Life Fitness Division manufactures and sells Life Fitness and Hammer Strength fitness equipment. Fitness segment sales in the fourth quarter of 2009 totaled $146.4 million, down 15 percent from $171.8 million in the year-ago quarter. International sales, which represented 52 percent of total fitness segment sales in the quarter, declined by 10 percent.

For the quarter, the division reported operating earnings of $20.5 million, including $0.5 million in restructuring charges. This compares with operating earnings of $25.6 million, including restructuring charges of $1.2 million, in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Commercial equipment sales, which account for the largest percentage of this division’s sales, declined in the quarter as club operators remained cautious about ordering equipment. Sales of consumer exercise equipment also were down during the quarter. Lower operating earnings in the fourth quarter of 2009, when compared with 2008, reflect the unfavorable effect of lower sales and a reversal of variable compensation and defined contribution retirement accruals that benefited the fourth quarter of 2008, partially offset by actions taken by Life Fitness to reduce expenses, including improvements in material costs, according to the company.

For Brunswick Corp., whose largest business is its Marine Division, the losses were even greater, as boat sales continued to be slow. Brunswick had total net sales of $657.3 million in the fourth quarter, down 22 percent versus 2008. It also had a net loss of $124.0 million. However, cash totaled $526.6 million, up from 2008 year-end balance of $317.5 million.

For the year, the company reported net sales of $2.8 billion, down from $4.7 billion a year earlier, and an operating loss of $570.5 million, which included $172.5 million of impairment and restructuring charges. In 2008, the company had an operating loss of $611.6 million, which included $688.4 million of impairment and restructuring charges.