As a dedicated stock-market Dumpster diver, I've been pretty interested in the smell from the shoe stores these days, specifically the stink that's coming from Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) and Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL).

Both stocks have long been on my "wish list," the place I watch for big drops in stocks that I think have decent long-term prospects. Both have recently appeared on the 52-week-low list. And both are having the same problem: sales, or a lack thereof.

Today it was Finish Line's turn to take a trip to the woodshed, dropping 14% on a slowdown in sales and a profit warning. Second-quarter revenues were up 9% over the prior-year period, with comps decreasing 2%. But full-year guidance provided the real fuel for the fall, with earnings predicted to come in between $1.16 and $1.21 per share. Even the top end of that range would be a drop from last year's $1.24. But has the stock been discounted enough to make it enticing? I don't think so.

It's been a tough few months for the sporty shoe crowd. Nike (NYSE:NKE) was ramping up sales at a low-teen clip before screeching to a near-halt last quarter. Reebok's (NYSE:RBK) sales growth has been slim as well, though the Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick recently soared after adidas agreed to buy it out in a bid to get bigger and take on Nike. (Good luck.)

The athletic landscape is more complex than that, and in the end, none of these are straight shoe companies. In fact, this quarter, Finish Line's shoe sales were flat, but the other "softgoods" lines trended down about 8%. Nike saw similar problems in its fourth-quarter U.S. sales, though the reverse was true in Asia and the rest of the Americas.

In the end, the cheapskate in me won't consider buying any of these players, especially not the retailers. With sales slowing and competition from places like Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) and Sports Authority (NYSE:TSA) growing, neither Foot Locker nor Finish Line looks appealing, even with P/E ratios nearing 11.

If Nike continues to drop, however, it should deserve any value investor's attention. With a brand that seems to actually work (many don't) and a track record of good returns on invested capital, it's the only one of the bunch I would trust to do the right thing with my money.

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Seth Jayson wears Mizuno running shoes, and at the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.