Ahead of the Bell: Crocs tumbles on weak outlook

NEW YORK -- Shares of Crocs Inc. slid in premarket trading Thursday, a day after the shoe company issued disappointing guidance for the fourth quarter.

The Niwot, Colo., company said late Wednesday it earned 49 cents per share in the third quarter, beating the average analyst estimate by 6 cents. Revenue grew 8 percent to $295.6 million, but fell short of analyst expectations. The company said demand slowed in Asia, particularly Japan, as the quarter progressed.

For the fourth quarter, Crocs expects to break even, while analysts were expecting a profit of 10 cents per share. The company's revenue guidance also fell short.

Shares of the company tumbled more than 12 percent, or $2, to $14.19 in premarket trading.

Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser lowered his rating to "Neutral" from "Buy" and also reduced earnings per share estimates for this and next year because of the outlook.

"We do believe that Crocs management has done a very good job of resurrecting the brand from the abyss," the analyst wrote in a note. He warned that, "the shift to owned retail and the plan to grow the store base by 15 percent increases the fixed costs and moves Crocs increasingly toward a vertical retail business model."

Crocs operated 499 stores at the end of the quarter, up from 410 locations a year ago.

Jim Duffy of Stifel Nicolaus maintained a "Buy" rating but noted, "While we appreciate the strategic rationale of investing to expand the reach of the brand beyond back-to-school and holiday, given the current concentration of selling season, we question the pace of retail expansion and the predictability of retail returns."

He trimmed his price target by $1 to $20.