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— "The quality of Ashworth clothes has fallen in recent years; this is surely not the leading company it used to be," says Bud Leedom, publisher of the California Stock Report. Morningstar gives Ashworth a C grade for financial position.

Ashworth, too, has been hit with lawsuits. In 1999, San Diego class-action attorney William Lerach sued the company, claiming its accounting did not follow generally accepted principles. Other law firms joined in. In November of 2004, the company agreed to settle, coughing up $15.25 million.

Carlsbad's Phoenix Footwear Group was founded in 1882 in New England. In 1999, the company, beset by rising costs, stopped making shoes in the United States and became an importer. It moved from Old Town, Maine, to Carlsbad in 2003. In recent years, it has made several acquisitions, expanding its shoe line and also going into outdoor and travel apparel.

In its most recent quarter, sales surged 48 percent, but profits were halved. The sales gain came primarily from two recently acquired brands. Older brands were flat. Morningstar gives Phoenix's financial position a D grade.

In San Diego County as elsewhere these days, rags are no route to riches.

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