Skechers USA Inc. hit a bump in the road after reporting sales growth that wasn’t fast enough for Wall Street.

The Manhattan Beach footwear firm’s stock plunged 32 percent Oct. 23, stung by third-quarter sales that slid in about $20 million below analyst expectations.

However, revenue was up 27 percent compared with the same period last year, going from $674 million to $856 million. Skechers also reported profits of $66.6 million (44 cents a share) for the quarter, a 30 percent increase over a year ago.

But selling fewer sneakers than hoped for made Skechers the biggest loser on the LABJ Stock Index last week. (See page 26.) The company’s shares plunged 32 percent to close at $31.31 during the week ended Oct. 28. Its stock had risen nearly 74 percent over the past 52 weeks.

Skechers Chief Operating Officer David Weinberg attributed the disappointing performance to lukewarm domestic consumer spending and unfavorable exchange rates in some of Skechers’ key foreign markets, especially Brazil, Canada and Chile.

But analysts said that investors overreacted to what will likely turn out to be a minor stumble for a company that has seen several years of growing profits.

“We expect the overall growth rate to continue to moderate, but nevertheless, remain in respectable territory,” Jeff Van Sinderen, an analyst at West L.A. investment bank B. Riley & Co., wrote in an Oct. 23 note.

“(Quarters with) monster growth are probably in the rear-view mirror,” he added, although he predicted room for expansion in Asia, particularly China.

Putting kids’ sneakers on shelves for the holidays – notably, the company’s Twinkle Wishes, Game Kicks and “Star Wars” product lines – could brighten fourth-quarter revenue, Van Sinderen said in the note. In addition, Skechers’ plan to open as many as 17 stores by the end of the year could also boost sales.

Still, the stock plunge prompted him and other analysts to lower expectations. Van Sinderen slashed his price target from $54 to $40 a share. Analysts at Bala Cynwyd, Pa.’s Susquehanna International Group cut their target from $55 to $45, and those at New York’s Buckingham Research Group went further, going from $55 to $30.

Nonetheless, Weinberg said he remains optimistic.

“Though we believe the sluggish macro domestic retail environment and declining currency in several key markets had an impact on our net sales, the third quarter was still a sales record,” he said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

Skechers also had to shell out to cover costs during the quarter that reduced its earnings per share by 15 cents. Personal injury settlements over its Shape-up sneaker line tallied $5 million, and a battle against rival Converse over intellectual property rights rang up a legal bill of $5.9 million.

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