Brown Shoe Company, Inc today reported an 8.6 per cent increase in diluted earnings per share to 88 cents for the third quarter versus 81 cents last year. Due to strong wholesale reorders late in October and lower than estimated expenses, Brown Shoe earnings exceeded its previous estimate of 85 to 86 cents per share.For the 13 weeks ended October 28, 2000 net income rose 5.8 per cent to $15,615,000 from $14,763,000 for the year ago quarter. During the first nine months of the fiscal year, diluted earnings per share rose to $1.75 versus $1.74 for the year ago period, and net earnings were $31,361,000 versus $31,596,000.Consolidated net sales for the third quarter were up 7.9 per cent, to$462,945,000 from $429,132,000."Given the current environment, we are pleased to have exceeded earnings estimates for the quarter," said Brown Shoe chairman and CEO Ron Fromm. "Our women's wholesale businesses performed very well, strengthening late in the quarter, and contributing to the increase in earnings. The increase was led by very strong reorders of Naturalizer - especially our new collection of boots and tailored women's mocs. This more than offset below-plan sales at Famous Footwear and Naturalizer Retail during the quarter."