Getting a Kick Out of Skechers

Is Skechers (NYSE: SKX  ) the next Deckers (Nasdaq: DECK  ) ? Well, maybe it won't be that hot, but it's interesting that Skechers is one of the few stocks that appears to be rallying on such a downer day.

Skechers reported yesterday that fourth-quarter net income decreased 17% to $12.1 million, or $0.26 per share. Revenue dropped nearly 1% to $302 million. Gross margin during the quarter improved a hair, to 42.1% from 42% this time last year. 

For the entire year, Skechers increased earnings, with net income up 6.6% to $75.7 million, or $1.63 per share. (The EPS figure came in at the low end of the guidance Skechers gave last October.) Net sales increased 15.7% to $1.39 billion.

The company seemed happy to have navigated the difficult consumer climate as well as it did. It pointed to some moves in 2007, such as the launch of its Cali Gear line, and for the coming year, Skechers pointed to brand-building initiatives, such as its agreement with bebe (Nasdaq: BEBE  ) Sport for footwear that will be associated with actress Eva Longoria.

Investors' euphoria seems a bit mysterious, though, given the fourth-quarter decline. Maybe they're excited that Skechers' first-quarter guidance matches analysts' expectations. It said its first-quarter sales will come in at $385 million to $395 million, and earnings per share will be $0.57 to $0.62.

Still, Skechers shares have taken a major beating lately (last year this time, investors were still quite enamored of the stock when it was trading at a lofty price-to-earnings ratio of 24), so maybe a little new confidence is in order. (And it's certainly in good company in the footwear space -- the charts of Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) , Timberland (NYSE: TBL  ) , and Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS  ) all tell similar tales.)

Of course, Skechers has been around for a long time, and it's a friend of the trend, with a wide variety of different shoes, from sneakers to sandals to boots, so it's not too reliant on one brand or trend. Skechers also has international exposure that should help it along. And its shares do look reasonable at the moment, trading at a mere 14 times trailing earnings, and a PEG ratio of just 0.78. Although there's still the uncertain consumer climate here in the U.S. in the short term, Skechers is definitely an interesting stock to keep an eye on.   

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