Finish Line Beats Street

Third-quarter income at The Finish Line Inc. topped estimates despite a reversal of a previous tax benefit.

For the period ended Nov. 27, Finish Line earned a net income of $4.1 million, or 8 cents a share, down more than 30 percent from $6.6 million, or 12 cents, a year ago.

Last year’s figures were buoyed by a one-time $6.5 million tax benefit, and analysts were looking for EPS of 5 cents this quarter as polled by Yahoo! Finance.

Net sales for the firm advanced 8.7 percent to $260.9 million, from $240.1 million in the same period a year ago, thanks to improved store conversions and average dollars per transaction, as well as successful leveraging of costs and inventory levels, said the firm’s VP and CFO, Ed Wilhelm.

Finish Line’s e-commerce revenue also surged 25 percent in the quarter, and the Internet “continues to be a sharp point for us in terms of our investment and focus as we move into the future, and we’ll continue to invest in pieces of the Internet business that reach our target consumer,” said Sam Sato, Finish Line’s president and chief merchandising officer.

Looking ahead, Finish Line plans to “achieve annual double-digit operating margins in the future by continuing to drive the top line in our stores and by accelerating growth in e-commerce,” said Glenn Lyon, the firm’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Finish Line ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents $222 million, up from $149.2 million at the end of the same period a year ago, and no long-term debt.

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