Skechers USA Inc.’s stock stepped back up again last week on the heels of good news including the launch of an Eastern European subsidiary.

The Manhattan Beach footwear firm saw its stock rise 9.4 percent to close the week ended Jan. 28 at $61.85 – less than $3 from its 52-week high – and land a spot among the top gainers on the LABJ Stock Index. (See page 26.)

Sam Poser, an analyst in the New York office of Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., said the stock pop had more to do with the company’s improved overall performance.

“Everything seems exceptionally robust with this company right now,” he said. “From the broad-based good product to the way they’re running far better than they have in the past.”

The company has improved its inventory management, purchase planning and preparation for obsolescence of a product, Poser said. “That’s beginning to be fully reflected in stock price.”

He said the launch of the subsidiary, based in Budapest and serving most of the former Eastern Bloc nations, made sense, because the firm now has the infrastructure to manage sales in the area without a third-party distributor.

“Companies do this all the time,” he explained. “When running it yourself, you tend to have more control; stores look the way you want, marketing is done the way you want, and so on.”

He pointed to increased revenue from point-of-sale data and healthy average sale prices, indicating the firm wasn’t just moving a lot of shoes at a deep discount.

“A handful of people who may have been short on the stock woke up and thought, ‘What have we been doing?’” Poser suggested.

In announcing the European subsidiary, Skechers said it planned to double sales in the region in the next three to five years through an expanded offering of products and a growing distribution base in new and existing markets.

“For nearly two decades, we’ve successfully marketed our product to consumers in Central Eastern Europe through several distributors, but in the last few years we have seen a growing demand and increased potential for Skechers in the region,” President Michael Greenberg said in the statement. “With the strength of our diverse product worldwide, we believe the time is right to further grow our brand – and that transitioning to a wholly owned subsidiary will allow us to leverage our capital, product, logistics and business model to achieve this growth.”

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