Steve Madden's (Nasdaq: SHOO ) toes are in a pinch -- the company said late last week that it's put itself up for sale.
According to Reuters, Steve Madden received takeover offers from unnamed parties, leading it to hire an investment banking firm to help it evaluate the usual strategic options, which could include a sale. The company's stock has fallen 46% over the last year, giving it a market cap of a mere $468 million, and its most recent bad news was cutting its guidance for the year due to weak consumer spending and a limited number of footwear trends to pursue.
A market cap of $400 million certainly is a sobering thought. I'd argue there's been a fad shoe bubble, and Madden's missed it. Consider ultra-trendy shoe purveyor Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) , with its market cap of $5.35 billion and a P/E of 46. Those metrics are outlandish for a company that relies on a shoe that owes most of its success to faddishness (and a strange consumer affinity for rubber).
Trendy shoe provider Heely's (Nasdaq: HLYS ) was a highflier until the wheels came off -- its 52-week high is $40, and it's currently trading below $9. (Clap if you thought wheel-heeled shoes might have been a fad, hmm.) Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) is down 43% in six months.
Deckers (Nasdaq: DECK ) has been on a run, but I wouldn't be the first to wonder if it can keep the UGGS momentum going. Timberland (NYSE: TBL ) has also gotten chopped, still trying to turn around, but at least Timberland has practical footwear in its brand portfolio.
Fashion is fickle. Shoe companies that are too faddish are poison for investors, especially in the current climate. As for Steve Madden, it sounds like it's out of step with the trends, and consumers' increasing skittishness makes things worse. Investors may pray for a buyout, but for some, it won't make up for their lost investment.
Consumers might start tightening their belts -- give me a non-faddish shoe stock any day. When it comes to shoes, utilitarian will be more fashionable for 2008. Stranger things have happened.
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