NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Crocs ( CROX) shares fell sharply in late trades after the footwear maker issued a weak outlook for its fiscal third quarter, saying it saw soft sales in its consumer direct business and that margins were lower than anticipated.

The Niwot, Colo.-based company said it now sees earnings of 31 to 33 cents a share, well below a previous guidance for a profit of 40 cents a share. Revenue is expected to range between $273 million and $275 million vs. a prior projection of $280 million.

The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of 40 cents a share in the September-ended quarter on revenue of $280.5 million.



"Our business in Asia has continued to perform very well on the strength of our new product introductions," said John McCarvel, the company's president and CEO, in a statement. "After a very positive response to our spring/summer 2011 product line in the Americas, we experienced some softness in our consumer direct channel in kiosk and outlet locations. Gross margins on a consolidated basis were slightly lower in the quarter than our initial expectations driven in part by lower direct sales as a percentage of total revenue."

For the fourth quarter ending in December, Crocs expects year-over-year percentage growth in the low teens from its 2010 quarterly total of $179.2 million. Wall Street's current consensus estimate is for revenue of $220.8 million in the quarter, implying an increase of roughly 23%.

Crocs noted on Monday that its backlog stood at $297 million as of Sept. 30, an increase of 30% from the same time last year.

The company won't report its actual results until Oct. 27. Showing history is only a guide, not gospel, Crocs had shown a solid history of beating the consensus view prior to the warning.

The stock tanked nearly 33% in late trades, falling $8.75 to $17.89, on volume of nearly 400,000, according to Nasdaq.com.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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