Go Meb! Skechers Gets a Leg Up With Boston Marathon Win

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Move over Nike (NKE), Adidas (ADDYY) and Under Armour (UA). There's a new athletic shoe company in town.

At a very emotional 2014 Boston Marathon, Skechers USA (SKX) endorsee Meb Keflezighi won the race, the first win by an American man since 1983. And for Skechers, this win may be the most important in its history.

Skechers shares were trading just above $36 early Tuesday, up 8.8% year to date.

Meb Keflezighi blazed through the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 37 seconds, winning by a narrow 11 seconds. Keflezighi wore and debuted Skechers new GOmeb Speed 3 shoes, which will be available in stores in the fall of 2014. GOmeb, the shoe name, is a cheer for Meb himself, and the shoe is built to his specifications.

Skechers signed Keflezighi in 2011 as an official endorsee. Since that time, the company has renewed a deal that pays Meb a reported six figures.

For Keflezighi, the race was a tribute to his country. "A year ago I decided I wanted to win the 2014 Boston Marathon for the people of Boston and for the U.S.," he said. He also gave a shout-out to Skechers during his post-race interview, saying the win was helped by "the support of the Skechers Performance Division by my side."

The win boosts Keflezighi's career, which was already remarkable. In 2012, he won the U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon and represented the U.S. in London. He has also won the Houston Marathon and several other prominent races in the U.S. Keflezighi broke a 27-year drought for U.S. males when he won the New York City Marathon in 2009. And at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Keflezighi won a silver medal.

The shoe worn by Keflezighi will be available in stores and online later this year and should see strong demand. Until then, consumers can purchase similar shoes, like the GOmeb Speed 2 for $115. The strong demand for the performance line of shoes will boost already strong same-store sales for Skechers. In the last fiscal quarter, same-store sales increased 12.8%.

To boost its prominence in the running category, Skechers will be one of the key sponsors for the Houston Marathon. For the Jan. 18, 2015, event, Skechers is designing and selling products with the official marathon logo. Skechers will also outfit the course volunteers with shoes and provide shirts for all finishers. This presence at a key race, which Meb has won in the past, will further boost Skechers' name recognition in the running category.

According to Running USA, 541,000 Americans took part in a marathon in 2013. These runners represent dollar signs to the shoe companies. Nike continues to dominate the running category, but has seen competition creep in. Skechers has a good chance to make a dent here.

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