Stride Rite Ready to Unlace

Footwear firm Stride Rite's (NYSE: SRR  ) days are numbered as an independent firm. That's because Payless Shoesource (NYSE: PSS  ) recently announced it was acquiring its rival for $20.50 in cold, hard cash per share. Yesterday's earnings release helped illuminate just what Payless will soon be receiving, and it looks promising.

Stride Rite's reported second-quarter earnings fell nearly 16% as it took charges for the upcoming Payless buyout and is also integrating its own purchase of the Robeez shoe brand. Strip out the charges, and the bottom line fell only slightly, while overall sales advanced a respectable 8%.

However, top-line results were uneven as children's wholesale revenue, or footwear sales made to department stores such as Macy's (NYSE: M  ) and Dillard's (NYSE: DDS  ) , fell 16%. Retail sales at company-owned stores were only slightly positive as they grew 4%. Trends from Stride Rite's stable of proprietary brands were also quite mixed, with Keds sales advancing a meager 1% and Hind plummeting 28% -- though it accounted for the smallest proportion of total sales.

The Sperry Top-Sider brand and international markets experienced a double-digit sales increase and the Tommy Hilfiger and Saucony lines enjoyed a healthy increase of 4% and 2%, respectively. While the company faced a steep drop in wholesale sales, this was slightly offset by management's strategy to grow its core retail business. Overall, Payless does appear to be getting several well-known, profitable brands, and the move to license brands is much more lucrative than selling outside shoe names such as Skechers (NYSE: SKX  ) and Steve Madden (Nasdaq: SHOO  ) .

Fellow Fool Nathan Parmelee recently estimated that the price being paid for Stride Rite is high, but by no means exorbitant. The potential benefit for Payless is that with inconsistency comes opportunity, for if it can leverage Stride Rite's internal brands and accelerating sales expansion into steady-eddy profit growth, the soon-to-be-named Collective Brands could begin marching to new stock highs and further rewards for shareholders. 

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

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