These three companies just didn't live up to Mr. Market's expectations last week. Sometimes an earnings stumble is a signal to sell, but digging in the dirt is also a good way to find turnaround candidates while they're getting beaten down.

On the catwalk
High-end retailer Saks (NYSE:SKS) starts our cavalcade of futility today with a $0.13 profit per share on $862 million in revenue. Nearly doubling the bottom line from last year's $0.07 per share wasn't good enough for the average analyst, who wanted $0.17 in net income per share.

Sales came in 8.8% higher than last year and well ahead of expectations. As you might have guessed from the combination of disappointing earnings and swell sales, Saks ran more discount sales than usual. CEO Stephen Sadove was proud of his company's 8.4% same-store sales increase "in light of the ongoing challenging macroeconomic and increasingly competitive retail environment."

In other words, Saks is doing better than Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) and other luxury stores, despite working in the same tough consumer environment. That trend should continue for a while, as Nordstrom has forecast falling comps for the rest of the year, but Saks sees "mid-single digits" growth. Both stock prices slumped last week like a cheap Armani-knockoff jacket with substandard shoulder padding, and I don't think that's entirely fair to the better-performing Saks.

Sporty Spice
Let's linger in the mall just a bit longer. Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) sort of met Wall Street's $0.18-per-share earnings target if you include a one-time $0.01-per-share gain on the sale of a company aircraft. Sales fell short of expectations at $912 million where the analysts wanted $926 million, though, and management lowered its earnings guidance for the year from about $1.50 per share to $1.30 or so. The stock immediately fell through the floor.

Dick's is still growing rapidly, with 54 new stores planned for this year and entry into the Californian market through acquisition. The company is borrowing heavily to get all this done, and you have to wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to back off the growth plan until the retail market bounces back again.

As bad as last week was for this stock, Dick's remains the best-performing sporting-goods retail stock over the past year with "only" a 17% drop. Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) has lost 29% despite a slight uptick last week, and Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV) has been punished to the tune of a 66% price slide. I'm not entirely convinced that we're looking at a cheap entry point on a best-of-breed stock, but that's certainly a possibility. See what your fellow investors are thinking on that subject.

Rockin' Robin?
It's all about the consumer this week! Our last underperformer is high-end burger joint Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (NASDAQ:RRGB).

The patty-flipping chain reported $0.43 of earnings per share on $256 million in sales, which was exactly the kind of revenue performance Wall Street had expected but less than the $0.50 earnings target per share.

Red Robin is another fast-growing chain-store concept, hoping to add eight stores or thereabouts in the coming quarter and also planning to buy a few of its own franchisees. The national advertising campaign, TV ads and the whole shebang, gets an $18 million budget this year to build on last year's $11.5 million marketing effort. Unlike Dick's, Red Robin is financing most of its growth with operating cash flows, and the company looks eminently capable of paying for its chosen path.

I happen to prefer Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) as an investment in the casual dining space, thanks to that outfit's greater growth, cleaner balance sheet, and higher return on assets. Since the current recession fears set in about six months ago, Red Robin is down 11% but B-Dub has gained 20%. These two companies follow similar strategies, but with different levels of success.

The fat lady sings the blues
Some of these underperformers are victims of larger circumstances, while others might have only themselves to blame. It's up to you to decide which down-on-their-luck companies should be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and which ones are stuck in the mud for real.

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