Can Crocs Really Be More Than Rubber Shoes?

The retail world is full of the remnants of brand fads that couldn't innovate and change. Once upon a time Girbaud Jeans and Hypercolor t-shirts couldn't stock shelves fast enough. My personal favorite, Zubaz, seemed to rule the world before their producer went bankrupt in 1996. So you would think shoemaker Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) falls in the same category with its rubber shoe fad, right? Not so fast.

Beyond rubber
The problem for most brands is the inability to become more than a one-trick pony. I thought Crocs wouldn't be any different, fading into oblivion once dads were finally convinced by their kids that the shoes just weren't cool. But Crocs has moved beyond its staple product, adding sandals, shoes, boots and more to its arsenal.

Reliance on its classic models has gone from 62.2% of revenue in 2006 to just 11.9% in the most recent quarter as new products pick up the slack. New 2010 footwear accounted for an eye popping 23.7% of sales in Q2, showing Crocs has traction with its new products. And improvement has been broad-based, with new products driving revenue increases in wholesale, retail and Internet channels.

The question for Crocs is: how sustainable are these improvements? We've seen Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS  ) go from boom to bust over the last few years because it turns out there's only a limited market for wheely shoes. But, maybe we are seeing another Skechers (NYSE: SKX  ) , which seems to have a business of building fads.

Improvements at Crocs show a renewed ability to launch new products and give me hope for the company, but I'm still wary about the stock. In the shoe sector, Skechers has a better track record and better value with a 7.8 P/E ratio right now. Crocs isn't terribly overpriced at a 20.8 P/E, but if growth slows there is much more downside. I would rather be overprotective in the fashion fad business, even if Crocs has become more than just a rubber shoe.

Interested in reading more about Crocs? Add it to My Watchlist, which will find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any stock mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2010, at 2:30 PM, VeryWiseInvestor wrote:

    Better check your employment status. It's against MF policy to have even a mildly good thing to say about Crocs.

    This company has made me almost as much money as Bell Labs but every article at MF calls them a fad that will go the way of the Pet Rock.

    Personally, I think the MF staff kept their rocks (in their heads) because this company continues to innovate and market plus has a great sole.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2011, at 7:06 PM, RickRickert4MVP wrote:

    i wonder if this guy is still a shareholder?

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