Skechers Skids

Investors in Skechers USA (NYSE: SKX  ) must feel as though they've been caught flat-footed. There were a few positive items worth noting in the company's quarterly report, but they've gotten lost in the dismay over why the company wasn't able to forecast a higher-than-expected rise in expenses, and why it couldn't have communicated news about that rise sooner.

While those expenses caused the shoe retailer's earnings to fall 20%, to $0.32 a share, revenues grew better than 20%, to $352.2 million. Still, investors seem to be concentrating on the negative and sent the shares sliding by more than 20% at the market's opening today.

Skechers, perhaps better late than never, has offered up a plethora of reasons for why expenses rose and earnings fell for the quarter. Here they are, straight from the horse's mouth:

... an increase in sales support merchandise incurred in connection with the launch of the new Cali Gear by SKECHERS product; increased general and administrative expenses incurred to develop the new Cali Gear by SKECHERS product as well as some of our newer brands; increased warehousing, distribution, and personnel costs associated with both our international and domestic wholesale and retail growth and the need to add the additional domestic distribution facility; and the acceleration of our new store growth.

To add to the pain, management lowered third-quarter guidance to $0.43-$0.48.

A difficult component for this trendy company is to get the fashion right, and given its sales increase, it appears to me that customers still like the brand. Some of its products appeal to teenagers, who are more recession-resistant than us older folks are. Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) has appealed to teenagers for years, and it doesn't experience the same magnitude of declines as other retailers during economic downturns. Meanwhile, Nike's (NYSE: NKE  ) more expensive line of sneakers is more prone to those economic cycles -- it's hard to justify paying $100 for a pair of sneakers when you are out of work.

So given the continued fashion relevance, and with the aforementioned expenses that are going toward future opportunities, I wonder whether Skechers could be an investment opportunity. Yes, the quarterly results are disappointing, especially since the woes causing the disappointing numbers weren't communicated in advance. But its products do appear to be on the right track. And in today's climate, it could also be an ideal buyout candidate for a private-equity player. Whatever happens, investors may soon find that this company is fashionable again.

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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned.


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