Skechers (NYSE:SKX) joined the list of companies that are doling out earnings warnings due to the weak economy. The stock’s getting absolutely slammed in today’s trading, although one might not be terribly surprised that shoes aren’t flying off the shelves given all the unhappy consumer news we’ve heard lately.

The shoe company delivered news of what will be a fourth-quarter whammy. It says to expect a net loss of $0.45-$0.50 per share, with net sales in the range of $290 million to $300 million. Skechers faulted a major fall in gross margin -- 1,000 basis points -- as the extremely weak retail climate forced it to take major markdowns on its products. This was exacerbated by several retail bankruptcies and going-out-of-business sales. (Gulp.)

There are a lot of bleak words on the retail climate in the announcement, although the company said it expects to break even in the first half of 2009, to return to profitability in the second half, and to bring in revenues of $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion for the year.

The shoe industry has been a pretty scary one for stock investors over the last year or so. Look at trendy flameouts like Heelys (NASDAQ:HLYS) and Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX). (Skechers actually made a bid for beleaguered Heelys, which I didn’t think was a red-hot idea; Heelys rejected the bid for the second time in August.)

I suppose you could argue that Skechers could become just as much of a train wreck as Crocs, but then again, while Skechers may specialize in trend-driven footwear, it’s been around for 17 years. It is adept at changing with the times. Meanwhile, it has over $3 per share in cash and very little debt on its balance sheet. Its debt-to-equity ratio is just 2.4%, which is negligible and bodes well for weathering tough times.

Still, unfortunately for Skechers in the near term, trendy footwear might not be at the top of shoppers’ lists given economic conditions. The fact that many retailers will likely continue to struggle and some will go bankrupt also adds some uncertainty. Even venerated accessory brands with real staying power like Coach (NYSE:COH) have found themselves reined in by the economic headwinds.

Skechers has often been one of the shoe companies I’ve thought had a good long-term prognosis, and today’s almost 30% drop in price may be overdone given the fact that it’s been pummeled in the last year. Still, a wait-and-see approach might be best for investors, given all the economic uncertainty.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.