Third-quarter profit at children's footwear company The Stride Rite Corporation dipped to $6.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, from $6.4m, or $0.16 per diluted share, in last year's third quarter.

Third-quarter sales were $140.4 million, compared to $139.7m in the same period in 2003, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2004, net sales were $441.5m, a decrease of 1 per cent from the net sales of $446.4m for the same period in fiscal 2003.

Fully-diluted earnings per share were $0.65 for the first nine months of fiscal 2004, versus $0.66 in fiscal 2003.

Net income for the first nine months of fiscal 2004 was $25.6m, a drop of 3 per cent from the $26.5m reported in the comparable period in 2003.

Stride Rite chairman and chief executive officer, David Chamberlain said: "The third quarter retail store comparable sales were solid, particularly when factoring in the later Labor Day this year and the 7.9 per cent comparative store increase last year in the same quarter.

"The Children's Group wholesale business reflects a positive sales trend versus last year. We believe our Children's Group is well positioned to finish the year with strong results."

Stride Rite's brands include the Children's Group, Keds, Sperry Top-Sider, and Tommy Hilfiger.