August wasn't a good month for footwear manufacturer K-Swiss (Nasdaq:KSWS). Its stock lost half its value and now trades near an all-time low of $4.85. Five years ago, it was trading near $40. Most of the decline came between 2007 and 2009. This year's rough ride in the markets finished it off. No analyst in his right mind would touch its stock. But I'm going to suggest three reasons why K-Swiss is a speculative buy right now.
Investopedia Markets: Explore the best one-stop source for financial news, quotes and insights.


Financial Health
Despite a precipitous decline in its share price caused by four consecutive years with an operating loss, K-Swiss is still very much alive. Its current Z-Score is 3.3, which means it has a low probability of bankruptcy. Furthermore, its total debt is $11.8 million, just 6% of shareholder equity. When comparing K-Swiss to similarly sized peers (see below), it's clear that its cash position is much stronger than any of its competitors is. The question remains for how long. Prior to its four-year losing streak, it had $291 million in cash on the balance sheet. In 2007, it could go almost eight quarters without revenue compared to less than two today. Skechers, which has the next-best level of cash-to-total-debt, actually fares worse, able to survive 1.3 quarters compared to 1.6 for K-Swiss. It has the balance sheet to survive but not with another four years of losses.

K-Swiss and Peers

Company Cash/Total Debt
K-Swiss (Nasdaq:KSWS) 5.3
Rocky Brands (Nasdaq:RCKY) 0.1
RG Barry (Nasdaq:DFZ) 0.9
Weyco Group (Nasdaq:WEYS) 0.4
Skechers (NYSE:SKX) 1.8

Margins
This is the key to its future. Its second quarter gross margin was 34.3%, 310 basis points lower year over year. For the entire 2011, it expects a gross margin of 37.5%, 170 basis points worse than in 2010. Margins are currently heading in the wrong direction. Its most profitable year in the past decade was 2005, when its operating profit was $107 million with a gross margin of 46.7%. Every year when its gross margin is below 40%, it has lost money. Steve Scruggs, portfolio manager for the Queens Road Small Cap Value fund (QRSVX), believes K-Swiss is moving in the right direction with a good marketing plan and should be able to get its gross margins back into the mid-40s soon enough. If so, this stock won't be under $10 for very long.

Revenue Growth
This is where the picture turns positive. Second quarter revenues grew 40% year-over-year to $65.5 million. Future orders are up 39.2% to $89.9 million with 2011 revenues expected around 25% higher at $271 million. It's still a long way off the $509 million it recorded in 2005, but at least it's in the right direction. Revenue growth at this point, while nice to have, is not nearly as important as higher gross margins. However, what is nice to see is the growth of its Palladium brand, which it acquired for $15.5 million in two parts in 2008 and 2009. Its diversification beyond athletic footwear will ultimately pay dividends. K-Swiss just needs to hang in there long enough to see it through.

The Bottom Line
K-Swiss is a speculative buy. There's no denying it. If you can't afford to lose your entire investment, you shouldn't be buying. Furthermore, a lot has to happen in the next few quarters for its turnaround to continue, including margins over 40%. However, if you have some fun money, the upside potential is tremendous. (For additional reading, take a look at Investing In Fads.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    How to Ballast a Portfolio with Bonds

    If January and early February performance is any guide, there’s a new normal in financial markets today: Heightened volatility.
  2. Stock Analysis

    Performance Review: Emerging Markets Equities in 2015

    Find out why emerging markets struggled in 2015 and why a half-decade long trend of poor returns is proving optimistic growth investors wrong.
  3. Investing News

    Today's Sell-off: Are We in a Margin Liquidation?

    If we're in market liquidation, is it good news or bad news? That party depends on your timeframe.
  4. Investing News

    Bank Stocks: Time to Buy or Avoid? (WFC, JPM, C)

    Bank stocks have been pounded. Is this the right time to buy or should they be avoided?
  5. Stock Analysis

    Why the Bullish Are Turning Bearish

    Banks are reducing their targets for the S&P 500 for 2016. Here's why.
  6. Stock Analysis

    How to Find Quality Stocks Amid the Wreckage

    Finding companies with good earnings and hitting on all cylinders in this environment, although possible, is not easy.
  7. Investing News

    What You Can Learn from Carl Icahn's Mistakes

    Carl Icahn has been a stellar performer in the investment world for decades, but following his lead these days could be dangerous.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
  9. Investing News

    Icahn's Bet on Cheniere Energy: Should You Follow?

    Investing legend Carl Icahn continues to lose money on Cheniere Energy, but he's increasing his stake. Should you follow his lead?
  10. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Google's Return on Equity (ROE) (GOOGL)

    Learn about Alphabet's return on equity. How has its ROE changed over time, how does it compare to its peers and what factors are driving ROE for the company?
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center