The stock market may be on a downhill slide, but K-Swiss Inc. is doing pretty well running uphill.

Shares of the Westlake Village shoe company have surged recently as analysts and executives alike see a promising future for the 44-year-old footwear maker.

After more than a year of losses, the financial outlook appears to be brightening just as the company gears up for a projected jump in back-to-school sales. Meanwhile, K-Swiss is preparing to roll out an aggressive new advertising campaign that analysts believe can strengthen a brand reinvention already under way.

Another encouraging sign for investors is the fact that executives are buying the stock.

This month, Chief Executive Steven Nichols acquired 10,000 shares at the same time that Chief Financial Officer George Powlick bought nearly 200,000 shares.

Sam Poser, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., said the moves should signal to investors that a turnaround is in store.

“Historically, when they’ve bought stock, that’s been a sign of them seeing improvement in the future,” said Poser, who recently raised his rating on the stock to “buy.”

Nichols did not return calls requesting comment; Powlick could not be reached.

Since hitting a low of $8.80 a share May 10, K-Swiss’ stock jumped by nearly half, hitting $13 last week before closing at $12.22 on May 20. Its 22 percent increase for the week ending that day made K-Swiss the biggest gainer on the LABJ Stock Index. (See page 48.)

Last week, Jeffrey Van Sinderen, an analyst with B. Riley & Co., raised his rating on the stock to “buy,” with a target price of $15.

The recession has been a considerable drag on sales for the company, which has reported six consecutive losing quarters, according to data from Bloomberg News, leading to a recent dip in the stock price. In the quarter ended March 31, the company lost $4.7 million on revenue of $66 million.

Despite the lackluster results, Van Sinderen noted in a report last week that the company has “a hoard of cash” – some $160 million – which limits any downside.

What’s more, forthcoming back-to-school sales data “represents a potential catalyst for the stock,” he said. If the shoes sell well, that will likely prompt retailers to order more.

Meanwhile, K-Swiss is set to unveil an ad campaign establishing a modern, athletic identity for the brand. The company has enlisted Jillian Michaels, the trainer from reality television show “The Biggest Loser,” and Gael Monfils, a highly ranked French tennis player, for the new campaign.

“K-Swiss is among the most comprehensive re-invention efforts,” Van Sinderen said.

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