Collective Brands Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of shoe slinger Collective Brands (NYS: PSS) were getting the boot by investors today as they fell as much as 14% in intraday trading after the company reported third-quarter results.

So what: A company doesn't need to report huge growth for it to wow investors on reporting day -- it just needs to top Wall Street expectations. It appears that Collective Brands may not have managed to do either in its third quarter report.

Third-quarter net sales climbed an anemic 1.4% from last year to $894 million, well short of the $911 million average estimate on Wall Street. On the bottom line, the company's per-share earnings dropped into the red to the tune of $1.91 per share, after a profit of $0.75 last year. Analysts were expecting $0.50.

However, analysts often exclude supposedly one-time items, and Collective brands logged a huge $2.52-per-share cost from restructuring and strategic review related items. Back that out, and the company actually had $0.61 in per-share profit for the quarter.

Now what: What may have hurt the stock more than the numbers, though, was the terse statement in the earnings release that the company "continues to progress" on its "review of strategic alternatives." That review was announced along with the previous quarter's earnings and may have gotten investors fired up that the company was on a path to sell itself. That that hasn't happened at this point may be encouraging investors who were looking for a quick buyout-related bump to head elsewhere.

Meanwhile, longer-term investors should focus on the company's continued efforts to realign the company and get it back on track.

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