"Now I'm stepping out this old brown shoe." -- "Old Brown Shoe" by the Beatles.
A chill is falling over Central Florida (well, it is in the upper 60s). There is a fire in the fireplace (hey, we have to do something with all the firewood three hurricanes left behind). I'm wearing my old brown sandals -- the Florida equivalent of shoes -- and the voice of George Harrison is lilting in the background. It's time to review the latest quarterly report from Brown Shoe
The earnings news:
Brown Shoe's recent earnings report was not good. Although sales increased by 4.3% from the year-ago quarter, earnings were down 11.2% and the company lowered full-year guidance.
The company, which earned $2.52 last year, was projecting earnings of $2.55 to $2.65 just last month. Now it expects to earn $2.35 to $2.50 a share.
To give even more perspective, this downward trend in earnings estimates started after the company upped guidance this past May to $3.20 to $3.24 a share. Now, three (by this analyst's count) reductions later, who can be sure it has it right?
The good news is that at least Brown Shoe is making money. The bad news is that fourth-quarter guidance is "predicated upon a slightly positive same-store sales retail performance at Famous Footwear" -- something its retail operation didn't achieve last quarter.
The saving grace is that the stock trades for 12 times the lowest forward estimate. For comparison, Payless ShoeSource
Analysts estimate the company will earn $2.84 a share in 2005. The current price is about 10 times this forward estimate, but forget that low earnings multiple for now. Brown Shoe has problems with operating losses at the Naturalizer retail stores and with lower-than-anticipated wholesale sales of children's shoes, along with low wholesale sales of the Bass, Original Dr. Scholl's, and Naturalizer brands.
Seems like a lot of loose ends to fix, if you ask me. For the short term, Brown Shoe will be singing the blues -- and a couple quarters could pass before the company might be ready to rock and roll once again.
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Fool contributor W.D. Crotty owns no stock in the companies mentioned in this Take.