Was Steve Madden’s Q1 Momentum Hurt By Bad Weather and Easter’s Calendar Shift?

Steve Madden Ltd. is getting mixed reviews on the lead up to its first quarter earnings report due before the market open on Thursday.

Several analysts predict that the fashion footwear maker — which has been a consistent Wall Street favorite for much of the past several years — likely felt some mild pressures from the Easter calendar shift as well as unfavorable February temperatures during the period.

Despite noting those potential challenges, Wedbush Securities analyst Christopher Svezia said he sees Madden’s strength in core product as well as owned-and-licensed brands serving to counterbalance shortfalls. (In addition to its flagship label, Steve Madden owns several brands including Dolce Vita, Betsey Johnson and Brian Atwood. It is also a licensee of labels such as Anne Klein, Kate Spade and DKNY.)

“While the slow start to the spring selling and the Easter shift were headwinds, these were offset by a strong response to key styles — [such as] Clear & Neon collections and more — and e-commerce while the margin benefited from Anne Klein profit contribution helping to offset the elimination of the lower margin Payless business,” Svezia wrote on Monday. (Steve Madden had been a private label footwear maker for Payless ShoeSource for several years before the retailer in February filed Chapter 11 for the second time. Payless shuttered all of its North America stores but is maintaining a few hundred locations in Latin America and elsewhere.)

Svezia and CL King & Associates analyst Steve Marotta both hold a “neutral” rating on the company’s stock.

For his part, Canaccord Genuity Inc. analyst Camilo Lyon cast the company as being in a ‘crowd of its own’ ahead of Thursday’s results.

“We are positive on Steve Madden heading into its Q1 results as we believe early spring sales for the brand have been robust, likely outperforming its peer set,” Lyon wrote today. “Despite weather and tax refund issues that appear to have been contributors to a soft Q1 for retailers, our checks indicate [Steve Madden] continued to gain market share due to its strong spring product offering.”

Fashion sneakers, in particular, he noted, “:showed no signs of slowing, and sandals —especially flatforms and espadrilles — also sold through well during the quarter.”

Similar to Svezia, Lyon noted a potential sales headwind from the Payless bankruptcy but said he expects the impact in the first half will be muted by the incremental sales from Anne Klein. Overall, consensus estimates peg Steve Madden’s Q1 sales at $404.7 million, an improvement of about 4% over the year-ago. Profits are predicted to stay flat year over year at 36 cents per share.

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