Crocs Shocks, Delta Locks, MGM Walks, It's Raining Stocks

It's not just the shoes that have holes. Shares of Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) are heading lower after the trendy footwear maker sharply reduced its near-term guidance and announced that it will close its Canadian plant.

The company is now looking to earn between $0.08 and $0.15 a share during the first quarter, before the charges related to shutting down its Canadian factory. The top line should clock in between $195 million and $200 million. The results will be far short of the $0.46-per-share profit on $225 million in revenue that Crocs had projected two months ago.

Crocs thinks it will earn between $1.70 and $1.80 a share on 15% to 20% revenue growth this year. That may price the battered shares of Crocs at ridiculously attractive valuation multiples -- in the single digits on a forward earnings basis -- but Crocs has been exposed. Investors can't trust its outlook any more than they can count on a pair of Crocs to hold water or sangria. If things deteriorated this quickly in less than two months -- when Crocs was hopeful of earning $2.70 a share in 2008 -- how can we take it on its word over the next three quarters?

We can't. Those rose-colored specs have shattered. As a Crocs shareholder, I hate to admit that, but it's true. Crocs as a company isn't necessarily shrinking in relevance, though. The shoemaker is still growing sales domestically, and things are going even better overseas. However, it is shrinking in relevance as a growth-stock story. All of the bears -- including many of my fellow Fools -- were right when they read booming inventory levels as red flags, even as analysts stuck to their profit targets.

The shoes aren't pretty, but they sure are comfortable. Now the stock is neither pretty nor comfortable.  

News to go
Crocs wasn't the only company hosing down its prospects last night. Stanley Furniture (Nasdaq: STLY  ) , Novatel Wireless (Nasdaq: NVTL  ) , and Rule Breakers recommendation Affymetrix (Nasdaq: AFFX  ) all talked down their latest quarters after the market closed yesterday. This isn't a single theme at play here. Stanley makes residential wood furniture. Novatel makes wireless modems. Affymetrix makes DNA chips. It's raining stocks! Whether you decide to don a poncho to avoid getting soaked or bring a bucket to make the most of the deluge, volatility has a blind date with Tuesday again.

Delta (NYSE: DAL  ) and Northwest (NYSE: NWA  ) will combine in a $17.7 billion deal that will create the country's largest air carrier. Delta appears to be wearing the pants here, since Northwest will be giving up both its name and its headquarters (Delta's Atlanta base wins out). Besides, it just wouldn't have made sense to have a company by the name of Northwest relocating to the southeast. This move won't solve all of the two legacy carriers' problems, but it should create a stronger company. Given all of the smaller airlines that have closed up shop lately, financial strength is almost as important as avoiding being seated beside a loud snorer on your next redeye flight.

With food prices climbing at a clip not seen in 17 years, I figured a little haiku was in order:

Food is expensive
Energy and the weak buck
How much for Twinkies?    

The Wall Street Journal this morning is reporting that MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM  ) is laying off 440 managers, mostly throughout its Vegas properties. If you thought casino properties were recession-resistant, with even more people hitting the slots and card games in an effort to strike it rich during times of financial strife, think again. The MGM news comes on the heels of Las Vegas' announcement of the second consecutive month of falling revenue levels. Time to call in CSI? Time to scrap the old adage about the house always winning?

It's April 15. Do you know where your tax returns are?

Have a great day out there.


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