This Footwear Company Looks Good for the Long Run

Shares of footwear maker Skechers  (NYSE: SKX  ) rose remarkably after the company posted outstanding fourth-quarter results. Skechers got off to a rocky start this year, but the stock shot up 17% and hit a new high after recent results.

Skechers has performed very well despite competition from other players such as Deckers Outdoor (NYSE: DECK  )  and Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW  ) . But can it continue this impressive performance? The likely answer to this question is yes.

Gaining strength
Skechers is gaining strong momentum. Revenue in the most recent quarter rose 14% year over year to $450.7 million, driven by double-digit growth at domestic wholesale and company-owned retail stores. Also, Skechers' earnings per share of $0.28 handsomely beat consensus estimates of $0.16. The company is undertaking a number of moves to improve its business going forward. Let's take a look at them one by one.

Skechers saw increased demand for its footwear in spite of severe cold weather in the Midwest and the Northeast. Skechers' diverse product offerings, including boots and lined footwear for colder areas, helped the company attract customers in regions hit by severe temperatures.

Skechers' lifestyle line also did well, with sales in both men's and women's lifestyle product lines exceeding expectations. On the other hand, the company donated 6 million pairs of shoes through BOBS, its charitable footwear line, to children who were affected by the typhoon in the Philippines. However, Skechers faced weakness in the kids' division, with revenue down 10.7% in the quarter. But, the company is expecting the division to start performing well from the spring season on the back of a healthy backlog.

Product development and international sales
Skechers is working aggressively on sales, marketing, and PR strategies, and these should help the company extend positive sales momentum in 2014. Also, the company's focus on product development will help its performance going forward. Already, Skechers' Relaxed Fit footwear, SKECHERS GO walk, BOBS, and SKECHERS Kids have done well, and more product development moves will definitely assist Skechers in getting more customers into its fold. 

Skechers is also expecting strong demand for products such as SKECHERS Go Walk and Go Walk 2 in the spring. On the back of aggressive marketing strategies and commercials, this line is expected to perform well this year. 

Skechers' international business is also on the right track, with sales exceeding the company's expectations. In particular, Europe, Canada, and Brazil performed well. The international segment grew 5.6% in the most recent quarter, as Skechers' diverse product line drew in more customers. The company is expecting better sales internationally including in these countries in 2014 as well.

Skechers' international distributor business is growing at a good pace. Sales in Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Australia grew at triple-digit rates in the most recent quarter, while double-digit growth was seen in Russia. Going forward, Skechers expects Mexico and China to become important markets, and it is taking steps to improve its position. The company in 2014 plans to open around 600 Skechers licensed stores worldwide with its variety of footwear products. 

Examining peers
The footwear market is very competitive, and Skechers has done well despite stiff rivalries from Wolverine and Deckers. However, the company does need to keep an eye on the product development of its peers. For example, Wolverine's various brands such as Sperry, Saucony, and Keds performed very well in the most recent quarter. Going forward, Wolverine plans to invest in its e-commerce segment to improve its performance.

Moreover, Wolverine is looking to deliver double-digit earnings growth this year, which should be a concern for its rivals. The company expects to achieve this by increasing the penetration of its brands in several markets, providing stiff competition to peers. 

On the other hand, Deckers recently took a beating on the Street after its earnings forecast for the current year fell behind analysts' expectation. Deckers expects a loss in the first quarter, spooking investors in the process. The company seems to have fallen upon bad times, and the future doesn't look very rosy either. Also, Deckers' earnings are expected to grow a rate of just 9.4% over the next five years, while its peers are expected to record earnings growth in the mid-teens. 

Bottom line
Skechers' diversified business, which includes a number of brands and is spread across various countries, is a big advantage; the company isn't reliant on just one area for growth. It has begun the year on a high and after looking at its various product lines and markets, I think it can continue doing well going forward.

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