Image source: Deckers Outdoor.

Retailers like footwear company Deckers Outdoor (NYSE:DECK) always have a big challenge in the first half of the calendar year. After getting most of their revenue and profits during the holiday season, the first and second quarters are often about treading water and trying to minimize losses. Coming into this Thursday's first-quarter financial report, investors expect Deckers to manage a modest profit, but the bigger question is whether it can bounce back from a challenging fiscal year and start the new fiscal 2017 on a positive note.

Let's look more closely at how Deckers Outdoor has done lately and whether it can expect better things ahead.

Stats on Deckers Outdoor

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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

What's ahead for Deckers Outdoor earnings?

In recent months, investors have gotten a little less optimistic about Deckers' long-term growth prospects, cutting a nickel per share from their fiscal 2017 projections. The stock has eased downward as well, falling 6% since mid-February.

Deckers Outdoor's fiscal third-quarter results didn't leave investors particularly happy about the holiday season. Revenue eased upward by just over 1%, but net income was almost exactly flat compared to the year-earlier period. Warm weather and weak store traffic across the retail industry weighed on Deckers' performance, and the strong dollar continued to put a downward impact on top-line figures. Sales of the key Uggs line were up just 1%, and a large drop in the Sanuk brand offset revenue gains from Teva and Hoka One One. In response, Deckers cut its guidance on the sales front by about $100 million, and cuts to adjusted earnings projections were also unexpected and led to substantial share-price declines.

Nevertheless, some investors remain bullish about the company's longer-term prospects. Deckers has updated its product line, producing innovative new boots and shoes calculated to create new buzz and excitement about the company's brands. Uggs will remain a key element of Deckers' success, but the company will also need good results from its other offerings if it wants to give investors everything they want to see.

The question, though, remains how quickly Deckers can get things turned around and moving forward again. In order to execute moves to refresh its brand, Deckers has to work on getting old inventory out the door and sold. To do so generally requires markdowns, and promotional activity has been at unusually high levels throughout the retail industry recently, putting even further pressure on the footwear company. In addition, Deckers relies on retailer partners who make large orders to resell in their stores. To the extent that those retailers are themselves struggling, it could make them less likely to take risks on new product launches. If retailer customers order fewer shoes and other products from Deckers, then it could put further pressure on the business as fiscal 2017 begins.

Deckers is focusing much of its efforts on women. In April, the company announced its first ever global women's brand ambassador, supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The brand ambassador will begin with a marketing campaign this fall that features a reimagined version of the Uggs classic boot, and depending on how well that goes, the strategy could return in the future as well.

In the Deckers Outdoor earnings report, investors shouldn't be terribly surprised if the company isn't able to live up to expectations, especially given how badly some of its fellow retailers have done so far this earnings season. However, Deckers does need to convince its shareholders that it can find new ways to grow more quickly in the near future. If the company can't convince investors about its strategic vision, then Deckers stock could remain under pressure for the foreseeable future.