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Tickers in this Article: WWW, NKE, KSWS, TBL, SHLD, KSS, TGT, CAT, HOG
Unless you play the short side of the market, these are not fun times to be an investor. Heck, even if you are an avid short seller, the exceptional volatility of the market is enough to make you old before your time.

So, what to do? Well, you can load up on food stocks and hunker down (a modern version of the "canned goods and gunpowder" trade), or you can stick to the stocks of companies with solid operating records and real markets. Along with Nike (NYSE:NKE), footwear maker and marketer Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW) is one of those companies.

Operations in Hibernation
Admittedly, there is not a lot to get excited about in the latest earnings release. Revenue was up just under 3% as reported, and a little less than 1% when excluding the currency impact. This below-consensus number had a lot of strangely moving parts underneath it - Hush Puppies were strong overseas and weak in the U.S., while the heritage brands were up nicely in the U.S., but weaker overseas. Go figure.

The rest of the income statement was likewise lukewarm. Gross margins were up very slightly, operating margin was up a little, inventories were down a bit, and accounts receivable rose by less than the reported revenue figure. (To start your own analysis, read Understanding The Income Statement.)

Should Investors Get Predatory?
The reasons not to buy Wolverine are not going to surprise folks who have been following the retail scene. Consumers are under pressure, retailers ranging from Sears (Nasdaq:SHLD) to Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) to Target (NYSE:TGT) are all under some degree of stress. Heck, buying any stock today takes a certain amount of devil-may-care bravery.

Looking past the market turmoil, however, you can see some reasons to at least keep Wolverine shares under consideration. Partnerships with Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have paid off for a while, and the company's investments in China, Russia, and other emerging economies should pay off in the future. On top of all that, you have a history of solid returns on assets and capital that K-Swiss (Nasdaq:KSWS) and Timberland (NYSE:TBL) would love to have today (though to be fair to both companies, they have each posted returns on capital in excess of Wolverine in the past).

Last and never least, valuation here looks good to me. Basic ratios like price-earnings and price-sales are as low as they've been since early 2004, and slightly more advanced price "guesstimation" methods suggest to me that the market is pricing in single-digit growth over the foreseeable future. (Interested in ratios? Check out Analyze Investments Quickly With Ratios.)

Bottom Line
So, we have a proven company with solid brands and a track record of strong execution that is growing its brands globally, while priced to grow at a single-digit rate. Now, that's almost enough to make you want to cuddle this wolverine.

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