Collective Beats Street

Collective Brands Inc. topped estimates in the first quarter.

The Topeka, Kan.-based firm, which was acquired earlier this month for a total of $2 billion, earned $33.2 million, or 54 cents a share, compared with $26.4 million, or 42 cents, in the first quarter of 2011.

Net sales increased 5 percent to $912.1 million, driven by an 8.1 percent comparable-store sales increase.

After several quarters of underperformance, the Payless Domestic division saw same-store sales rise an impressive 8.7 percent in the quarter, thanks to the women’s and kids’ categories outperforming the overall comp-store average. Payless International inched up 1 percent.

Collective’s Performance & Lifestyle Group recorded in 8.3 percent improvement in sales, driven by the Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite brands, offset partially by declines in Saucony and Keds.

PLG Retail rose 10.2 percent, partly due to the opening of nine new Sperry Top-Sider stores.

“Our first-quarter results show that the new Payless strategy is working domestically, and the turnaround in that business has begun,” said Michael Massey, Collective’s CEO. “At Payless we are employing a strategy that emphasizes reconnecting with our core budget-conscious consumer with more relevant price points and styles. We are now implementing these strategic changes across Payless internationally and seeing some positive results there as well.”

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