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Wolverine Growing Under a Pile of Debt

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earlier this month, the footwear company Wolverine World Wide (WWW - Get Report) released impressive quarterly results in which it managed to beat both top- and bottom-line estimates. Wolverine has a portfolio of footwear brands that includes Cat, Harley Davidson, Hush Puppies, Merrell and Sperry, and has reported phenomenal growth (on the back of a major acquisition I'll get to shortly).

As a result, the company is now sitting atop a massive pile of debt. Moreover, although its shares have underperformed this year against some of its key competitors, they are still trading more than 40 times its trailing earnings. Despite these stellar results, I believe investors should stay away from this stock. Let's dig deeper.

In October 2012, Wolverine acquired Collective Brands' Performance + Lifestyle Group, or PLG, for $1.25 billion. The impact was plainly apparent in its earnings release, as Wolverine reported a 103% revenue increase from the same quarter last year, to a record level of $716.6 million, while earnings rose by 64% to $1.08 a share. Excluding the acquisition-related costs and other one-off items, Wolverine managed to increase its earnings by 61% from the same quarter last year, to $1.16 a share.

Wolverine has also reported "pro forma" results for its revenues presented under the assumption that Wolverine had acquired PLG on January 2012. These results eliminate the unusual impact of the massive acquisition on the company's quarterly revenues and, therefore, provide a fair assessment of its performance.

Unlike the 103% increase in reported revenues, they are up a more-realistic 9% on pro forma basis. This is an impressive performance because not only it is around $4 million above expectations, but this growth has come on the back of a challenging business environment in the U.S and Europe, where both retailers and consumers have cut back on their spending.
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