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Shoe Carnival falls as analyst lowers rating

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Shoe Carnival declined Monday as an analyst lowered the company's rating as athletic footwear sales weaken and customers got squeezed by the partial government shutdown.

THE SPARK: Sam Poser of Sterne, Agee & Leach cut Shoe Carnival Inc. to "Neutral" from "Buy."

THE ANALYSIS: Poser said in a client note that athletic footwear sales appear to be softening. This is important because these sales comprise about 50 percent of Shoe Carnival's total revenue.

The analyst said that Nike sales declined, which could be because the brand's offerings in family footwear during August and September were not as appealing to customers as they were a year ago.

In addition, Poser said that the recent government shutdown will probably push the tax filing deadline from mid-January to the end of the month and delay tax refund checks. This is similar to this past January when the tax filing deadline was pushed back due to Congressional problems and tax refund checks were delayed. Poser said the delay in refund checks hurt Shoe Carnival's same-store sales during the last 10 days of fiscal 2012. The company may face similar sales weakness toward the end of fiscal 2013.

A representative for Shoe Carnival Inc. did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

SHARE ACTION: Down 67 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $27.10 in afternoon trading. Year to date, the stock is up 36 percent.