It's been a great year for Brown Shoe Company (NYSE:CAL), the business behind multi-brand chain Famous Footwear, shoe wholesaling, and various specialty retail stores, with the stock up more than 40% year to date. In the company's recently reported earnings, however, the market wanted heftier sales figures. As many a Fool has said, quarterly earnings (and subsequent market reactions), are often overweighed events. This may be the case in Brown's third-quarter earnings. The real question is whether the company can continue to grow at attractive rates and sustain the stock's premium valuation. Is Brown Shoe Company a long-term pick?
Despite a miss on revenue guidance, Brown Shoe Company delivered a strong third quarter with record sales at Famous Footwear, along with a 4.5% gain in wholesale shoe revenue. All in all, sales grew just 1% to $702.8 million -- slightly missing the Street's estimates. Drifting down the income statement, earnings improved to a much larger degree, growing more than 12% in the quarter to $0.63 per share. Wall Street had been looking for just $0.60 per share. Gross margin actually shrank 50 basis points, but last year's portfolio realignment -- which cost the company $0.04 per share -- helped this quarter's earnings jump.
Most of the company's segments looked strong, with a 4.9% increase in same-store sales at Famous Footwear, and contemporary fashion wholesaling up more than 19%.
Looking ahead, Brown Shoe is now expecting $1.36-$1.40 per share -- a slight premium to previously issued guidance. Management remains cautious as to the tepidity in consumer spending behavior, but this year's strong run was apparently convincing enough to boost the EPS figures for the full year.
Wall Street was looking for larger full-year 2013 revenue than the projected $2.54 billion.
Priced to sell?
At more than 16 times forward earnings, Brown Shoe isn't a particularly cheap stock, though it does come in at a sharp discount to peer DSW (NYSE:DBI), which currently trades at 21 times earnings. On an EV/EBITDA level, Brown Shoe looks more appealing at just 8.63 times. The company generates healthy cash flows from its various business lines, and is well equipped to service its debt with a debt-to-capital ratio of just 30.6%.
Same-store sales growth guided down slightly from its previous 6%-8%, and is now expecting 7%, at most.
Brown Shoe is another company that the market has loved in recent periods and, thus, had little headroom for a leveling off in demand. This does not indicate a material weakness in the business, but instead, is a matter of expectations versus reality. The company is well managed, and its brands should continue to perform -- barring a slowdown in spending habits. For growth-seeking investors, Brown Shoe can still deliver.