Q:What do you think of my shares of Finish Line Inc.? Will the company's recent acquisition help or hinder it? -- F.M., via the Internet

A: Success doesn't always breed success.

The giant footwear retailer was successful recently in outmaneuvering rival Foot Locker Inc. to strike a deal to purchase Genesco Inc. for $1.5 billion.

This deal, slated to close in the fall, would make its product mix more diversified and upscale, something Foot Locker also was trying to accomplish.

Finish Line operates more than 800 Finish Line, Man Alive and Paiva stores. Genesco sells shoes, hats and accessories in more than 2,000 retail stores such as Journeys, Johnston & Murphy, Underground Station and Lids.

Besides the challenge of pulling together two businesses, there is the larger question of whether the premium price paid and debt assumed are fully justified. It plans to pay $11 million from cash on hand and obtain up to $1.6 billion in financing in order to complete the deal.

This puts financial pressure on Finish Line at a time when footwear sales and consumer spending are not robust. It posted a net loss of $3.9 million in its recent fiscal first quarter because of sluggish sales and rising expenses. It has a history of inconsistent earnings.

Finish Line (FINL) shares are down 60 percent this year following last year's 18 percent decline. The company said it won't declare a quarterly cash dividend because of the costs associated with the Genesco purchase. When the deal closes, Genesco will become a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Finish Line but keep its operations in Nashville. Genesco twice rejected lower bids from Foot Locker.

The merger does add depth to the management team. Robert Dennis, president of Genesco, would become president of the combined company. Alan Cohen, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Finish Line, retains his current positions.

The consensus rating on Finish Line stock is "hold," according to Thomson Financial, with all 11 analysts following it rating it a "hold."

Finish Line operates in a competitive, cyclical and often fickle business. It must not only deal with powerful suppliers such as Nike and Under Armour but also go toe-to-toe with aggressive retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Foot Locker.

Earnings are expected to decline 41 percent in the current fiscal year that ends in February and rise 37 percent the following fiscal year. The five-year annualized growth rate is projected to be 12 percent.

Q: Does Fidelity International Discovery Fund live up to its reputation? -- R.C., via the Internet

A: It is a broadly diversified foreign fund with a fine long-term track record and reasonable expenses.

Although portfolio manager William Kennedy has been on board less than three years, he has produced strong results and previously excelled at other overseas funds.

The $12 billion Fidelity International Discovery Fund (FIGRX) is up 20 percent in the past 12 months and has a three-year annualized return of 24 percent. Both results rank in the top 15 percent of large foreign growth and income funds.

"I have a `buy' rating on the fund, and the fact that it is so broad-based means the chance of getting burned in it are very low," said Jack Bowers, editor of the independent Fidelity Monitor newsletter in Rocklin, Calif.

"While I'd caution that good times in foreign markets don't last forever, it is one of the better funds for investing internationally."

The portfolio mix of Fidelity International Discovery is close to Morgan Stanley's EAFE (Europe, Australasia and Far East) index. About two-thirds of holdings are in the United Kingdom and Western Europe. Japan represents about 16 percent and the rest of Asia 15 percent, with smatterings in North and Latin America.