Skechers Regains Its Footing

Could it be that Skechers (NYSE: SKX  ) is gaining back some of its lost traction? Its third-quarter results seemed to make investors think so.

The footwear company's third-quarter net income increased 12% to $24.7 million, or $0.53 per share, and total sales jumped 19% to $395 million. In its press announcement, Skechers proclaimed that its sales increase was due to growth across all of its distribution channels -- domestic and international wholesale and retail, as well as e-commerce.

This was a better-than-anticipated performance, although there are still some signs of weakness. For example, gross profit came in at 43.5% of net sales, versus 44.2% this time last year -- a result of closing its Michelle K and Kitson lines during the quarter.

Skechers did, though, point to some new product lines that should help, such as the Cali Gear line that some might dub as Skechers' answer to Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) footwear, which, as many of us have noticed, have been quite the trendy fashion lately.

Although Skechers said its fourth-quarter net income will dip, not all of 2007 will be a wash. It said it will report earnings of $1.63 to $1.68 for the year, which is much better than the $1.62 that analysts were expecting. On the other hand, earnings are expected to grow by only 3% to 6% in 2007.  

In the past six months, Skechers' shares have fallen nearly 30% -- it was worse before the stock jumped nearly 10% yesterday -- and a sketchy second quarter was part of what precipitated the malaise. True, it appears that Skechers has made some fashion missteps, and that can be tough in the shoe business. Steve Madden (Nasdaq: SHOO  ) and Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS  ) are two other examples of how shoe companies can sometimes get uncomfortable for investors.

It wasn't long ago at all that investors really thought Skechers had "sole" and sent the stock on a real tear. For those who believe current conditions have simply been a temporary problem and that Skechers can hit the fashion trends on all cylinders once again, the stock looks like a bargain right now. It's trading at 13 times forward earnings, compared with 15% expected long-term growth, and its PEG ratio is 1.02.

There's a good chance that Skechers shares got beaten up too badly, so it might be a good time to consider whether it's time to try Skechers on for size.   


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