I have written on numerous occasions that the death of the fad that is toning shoes would happen sooner rather than later. However, it appears that these silly shoes are going away even faster than I thought, if Finish Line's (Nasdaq: FINL ) fourth-quarter report is any indication.
The shoe retailer actually posted a very strong quarter, with earnings up 12%, but it could have been even better if the company hadn't purchased so many toning shoes. Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) has been a huge beneficiary of this fad, and other shoemakers, like Reebok, have participated as well. Nike (NYSE: NKE ) has stayed out of this business completely, instead choosing to focus on making and not faking new technology.
Sales of toning shoes at Finish Line fell by 45% during the quarter, hurting margins as the company was forced to discount these products significantly just to unload some of the inventory overhang. While Finish Line CEO Glenn Lyon was somewhat optimistic in the previous quarter that the toning shoe fad might have a bit more fuel in the tank, he all but threw in the towel during last week's conference call, saying that the company was ready to move onto new trends.
Shares of Skechers remain stuck near 52-week lows and continue to look cheap by a number of measures, and it trades at tangible book value. However, I still believe investors should stay away from this name until its toning line inventory issues are cleaned up. Inventory now comprises about $400 million of the company's $915 million market cap, so any major discounting would make that book value figure illusory.
With retailers buying less and less of this product, I don't foresee the inventory mess easing significantly anytime soon at Skechers. So I think it's best that investors stay on the sideline of this underperformer.