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Shoe Carnival quarterly earnings rise 15 percent

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Shoe Carnival Inc.'s fiscal third-quarter profit climbed 15 percent as the back-to-school season helped its sales results.

The Indiana-based footwear and accessories company reported Thursday that its earnings rose to $10.5 million, or 78 cents per share, for the period ended Oct. 29, up from $9.1 million, or 70 cents per share, a year ago.

The latest results matched the consensus expectation of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue increased 5 percent, to $215.5 million from $204.4 million, helped by back-to-school sales.

Wall Street expected revenue of $217.1 million.

Shoe Carnival, which runs 327 stores in the Midwest, South and Southeast, said its quarterly earnings and revenue results were the highest in its history.

Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 2.8 percent. This figure is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The Evansville-based retailer anticipates fourth-quarter earnings of 33 cents to 36 cents per share, with revenue between $186 million and $190 million. Same-store revenue is predicted to range from down 1 percent to up 1 percent.

For the full year, Shoe Carnival expects earnings in a range of $2.05 to $2.08 per share on revenue between $767 million and $770 million. Revenue at stores open at least a year is predicted to be up 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent.

Analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings of 39 cents per share on revenue of $191 million and full-year earnings of $2.12 per share on revenue of $773.2 million.

Sam Poser of Sterne, Agee & Leach said in a client note that the fourth-quarter outlook was softer than expected and reduced the company's price target to $26 from $32. He maintained a "Neutral" rating.

"We recognize that the stock appears very inexpensive at its current level, but we are concerned that the mid-single-digit increase in December and January same-store revenue may not occur if the weather fails to cooperate," he wrote.

Poser said he is also concerned that slightly higher clearance levels that are expected to push merchandise margins lower in the fourth quarter may be too optimistic.

The analyst said that Shoe Carnival runs a good business but that on a risk/reward basis, "investments may prove more fruitful elsewhere."

Its shares closed at $22.76 each on Thursday.

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