Correction: The previous version of this article said that Wolverine World Wide lowered 2004 estimates to between $1.44 and $1.52 per share. In fact, the company reaffirmed its previously stated estimate of $1.44 to $1.52 per share. We apologize for the mistake.

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, Hush Puppies were all the rage in Long Island and throughout the country. It's sad that when people look at me in pictures with my then-cool shoes, all I get is a red face from all of the mocking laughter. What choice did I really have? There were only a few shoemakers when I was growing up. But the competitive landscape has become a great deal more crowded over the years.

The company that makes both Hush Puppies and Merrell shoes is Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW). The first time I slid on a pair of Merrell casual shoes my feet said "Ahhhh!", which was similar to a peaceful feeling my feet used to experience with Hush Puppies. I remember my dad had a pair of high-top Hush Puppies that I used to put my feet into on cold days (you could have fit a family of four in those size-14 shoes).

Wolverine released second-quarter results today, with sales rising 8% and earnings per share increasing from $0.23 to $0.27. However, the stock dropped more than 5% today. The company reaffirmed its guidance for 2004 of $1.44 to $1.52 per share. The consensus estimate is sitting at $1.53 per share for 2004.

Wolverine is looking to become "the world's premier non-athletic footwear company," but companies such as Timberland (NYSE:TBL), Skechers (NYSE:SKX), and Reebok's (NYSE:RBK) Rockport will certainly impede its progress. Even sports-oriented companies such as Nike (NYSE:NKE) have gotten into the casual footwear act. Looking on TheSports Authority (NYSE:TSA) website, there are more causal shoes and brands available than even Imelda Marcos could buy.

I reluctantly see the Hush Puppies brand being a bit of a cumbersome weight to the immensely popular Outdoor Group at Wolverine, which includes the Merrell shoe line. Focus is a good thing in corporate America, and leveraging the hot brand is the name of the game in the apparel and footwear industry. I would suggest that investors refrain from buying Wolverine shares until the company sharpens its claws, more fully leverages its strengths, and becomes fierce again.

Read what Tom Gardner has to say about companies focusing their operational efforts in Focus! Focus! Focus! To learn more about Motley Fool Hidden Gems , sign up for a free, no-obligation trial.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.