Third quarter profit at footwear maker Stride Rite Corporation rose 24 per cent to $7.7 million or $.21 per diluted share, reflecting the strength of its brands such as Keds and Sperry Top-Sider.

Third quarter net sales were $146.2 million, an increase of 4 per cent from last year's $140.4 million.

Operating income in the third quarter ended 2 September was $11.1 million, an 18 per cent increase from the prior year's quarter.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2005, net sales were $456.5 million, an increase of 3 per cent over the $441.5 million posted in the same period in fiscal 2004.

Net income for the first nine months of fiscal 2005 totalled $27.6 million, an increase of 8 per cent from the $25.6 million reported in the comparable period in 2004.

Third quarter sales of the Stride Rite Children's Group increased 9 per cent compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2004.

The Children's Group company-owned retail stores recorded a sales increase of 20 per cent for the third quarter over the same period of fiscal 2004. Same-store sales rose by 7.4 per cent in the third quarter. Sales by the Children's Group to independent retailers decreased 6 per cent during the third quarter.

Sales of Sperry Top-Sider footwear increased 53 per cent in the third quarter; but sales of Keds and Tommy Hilfiger products were down 9 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

International sales for the third quarter increased 33 per cent versus the same period in 2004.

The company completed its acquisition of Saucony on 16 September 2005 and expects this to be accretive to earnings starting in 2006. In the fourth quarter of 2005, the acquisition is expected to dilute earnings by approximately $.04 per share.