Wall Street Upbeat on SKX Outlook

LOS ANGELES — After Skechers USA Inc. reported stellar fourth-quarter earnings and sales results, analysts last week were bullish on the company’s 2010 prospects.

“The new additions to the Shape-ups product line, the Extended Fit shoe and the Skechers Resistance Running product should really keep the momentum going with them,” said Sam Poser, senior research analyst at Sterne Agee. “Their prices work, [and] on top of that, they have some very trend-right product. A lot of things are working for them. I got the impression that a 20 percent increase for the whole year is doable.”

Christopher Svezia, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, also sees bright times ahead for the company and has raised his 2010 sales estimate by 20 percent. “We believe this premium is justified given a rapid margin recovery story, the magnitude of potential earnings growth and the sales and earnings boost from Shape-ups that still may provide some upside to our current estimates,” he wrote in an earnings note. “We believe the company has a strong opportunity to outperform expectations during the next six to nine months.”

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company reported net earnings of $27.9 million, or 58 cents a diluted share, compared with a loss of $20.4 million, or 44 cents, during the year-ago quarter. Sales grew by more than 30 percent to $388.6 million, versus $298.1 million for the same quarter of 2008.

“2009 began as a challenging year for us as we faced a difficult economy, but it evolved into a dynamic year for Skechers as we developed unique, well-accepted, fresh product and launched new initiatives supported by strong execution and our global infrastructure,” COO and CFO David Weinberg said during a conference call with investors and analysts.

“This approach resulted in significant growth in the second half of the year with record third and fourth quarters and relatively flat annual revenues.”

Weinberg went on to say that backlog orders are up 40 percent over the same period last year, while domestic and international store comps increased 17.4 percent during the quarter.

Also during the fourth quarter, the company opened two retail stores, including a flagship store in London’s Covent Garden.

In the first three months of 2010, the company plans to bow five stores. In all, execs intend to open 25 to 30 new retail doors this year, including three in the U.K., two in Canada, and two in Italy. The company’s first airport retail location is also slated to open in the Orlando International Airport later this year.

For fiscal-year 2009, net earnings were $54.7 million, or $1.16 a share, compared with $55.4 million, or $1.19, in 2008. Sales remained flat at $1.44 billion, compared with the prior year.

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