Brown Shoe Returns to Profit in Q4

Brown Shoe Inc. returned to profitability in the fourth quarter thanks to strong sales in its three main divisions — Famous Footwear, wholesale and specialty retail.

The St. Louis-based firm had net earnings of $5.1 million, or 12 cents a diluted share, versus a loss of $153.1 million, or $3.68, the prior year. Results in the latest quarter included after-tax charges related to organizational changes and certain information technology projects.

Excluding items, the firm said it would have earned $8.1 million, or 19 cents, which compared with a loss of $11.5 million, or 28 cents, a year ago. On this basis, analysts were expecting a profit of 16 cents.

Net sales rose 9 percent to $566 million, including a 9 percent same-store sales increase at Famous Footwear. In the wholesale division, sales totaled $151.1 million, an increase of 6 percent. Specialty retail sales rose 10 percent to $72.2 million.

“Our core brands, Famous Footwear, Naturalizer and Dr. Scholl’s, led the way [in the fourth quarter]. Both Famous Footwear and Naturalizer delivered high single-digit, same-store sales increases in the quarter and demonstrated the strength of their multi-channel offerings with double-digit gains in their direct-to-consumer businesses,” said Ron Fromm, chairman and CEO of Brown Shoe, in a written statement. “Fresh, on-trend product that provided excitement for shoppers, strong inventory management and more full-priced selling led to a 390 basis point increase in our gross profit rate in the quarter.”

Fromm forecast “a return to mid-single-digit sales growth for Brown Shoe during the year coupled with a doubling of our earnings in the next 12 to 15 months.”

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