With all of the recent hoopla about back-to-school sales trends in the apparel space, analysts have found time to cast doubt on the footwear sector as well. Although I won't argue that Brown Shoe (NYSE:BWS) reported a perfect quarter, I don't see any compelling reason to sound the retreat.

Yes, results for the company's second quarter were a touch murky. Reported sales rose 20%, but about half of that growth came from the inclusion of the Bennett Footwear Group acquisition that Brown Shoe made earlier this year. As for earnings, investors seem to have three choices of numbers: $0.22 a share, which includes all expense items; $0.31, which excludes charges related to restructuring the Naturalizer business; or $0.38, which excludes both the Naturalizer expenses and some inventory adjustment items.

Results were also mixed across Brown Shoe's operating units. While Famous Footwear saw sales growth of more than 6% and same-store growth of more than 2%, operating income dropped because of markdowns needed to move merchandise. Specialty sales were up 11%, but the operating loss widened largely because of the Naturalizer reorganization costs. Finally, wholesale sales were up strongly (with or without Bennett), and operating income was up strongly as well.

Brown Shoe continues to take additional measures as part of a long-term turnaround strategy with the Naturalizer business. The company is looking to close 80 stores, open new outlet stores, and further consolidate buying and merchandising functions back to headquarters. Although it is going to cost more than $15 million to meet those goals, it should put the business on better footing and improve overall margins for the company.

Turnarounds take time, and the company has already made meaningful progress, so I can understand it if those who bought at less than $30 are thinking of taking the profits. But by the same token, the company is generating positive free cash flow and has the opportunity to grow the wholesale business meaningfully -- suggesting that with a little more polish, Brown Shoe could have a bit more shine.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).