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Brown Shoe Beats Street by Standing Down

Brown Shoe recorded a smaller-than-expected loss in the first quarter, but plans to curtail store growth.

Brown Shoe (BWS) may be seeing some improvement to its bottom line -- but when that improvement comes at the expense of growth, it's hard to call it a moving forward.

While the shoe retailer posted a smaller loss in the first quarter, the company also announced plans to curtail new store openings this year, and will decrease its store base by 30 locations a year in 2010 and 2011.

Still, investors only cared about the smaller-than-expected loss of $7.6 million, or 18 cents per share, sending shares up 6% to $7.42 in afternoon trading. Analysts expected a loss of 27 cents a share.

Revenue fell 3% to $538.7 million, from $554.5 million.

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While the company said the business environment was difficult, it managed to reign in expenses. That includes more Famous Footwear store closings this year, and net store closings in fiscal 2010 and 2011.

The company now plans to open 55 Famous Footwear stores for the year, and close 55 to 70, which would leave its store count unchanged, or reduce it by as many as 15 stores. The company had more than 1,100 Famous Footwear stores at the end of the first quarter. It plans to shut about 30 stores per year in fiscal 2010 and 2011.

Brown Shoe expects a smaller loss in the second quarter than it saw in the first, and actually predicts to turn a profit for the year. Wall Street is not as convinced, and expects a full-year loss.

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