Finish Line Beats The Street in Q1

Momentum in running and toning product helped Finish Line Inc. handily top analysts’ estimates in the first quarter.

The Indianapolis-based company reported on Thursday net income of $13.7 million, or 25 cents a diluted share, for the period ended May 29, reversing its loss of $608,000 in the year-ago period. Analysts polled by Yahoo Finance had expected the company to report earnings per share of 15 cents.

Finish Line said comps were up 10.9 percent in the period, compared with a 3.9 percent decline last year. Overall revenues rose 9 percent, to $282.4 million.

Gross margins also improved 380 basis points year-over-over, said CFO Ed Wilhelm.

“The running business really continued with its momentum. It was up in the high double digits and remains a core competency for us,” said chief merchandising officer Sam Sato.

Nike last Wednesday highlighted stronger-than-expected demand for its running line for the fall and holiday seasons, and Finish Line echoed the optimistic outlook, saying Nike’s “product engine is really ramping up” and its “customers are responding favorably.”

Strong sales and more streamlined inventories helped the company more than double its cash balance to $248,000, from $119,000 last year.  The firm also has no interest-bearing debt, as of May 29.

“We’ve maintained a very disciplined approach in managing operating costs, really, across the board,” said Wilhelm.

For the second quarter and beyond, the company is banking on new product from vendors such as Reebok and Under Armour.

“There are new colors in running and new silhouettes in basketball,” Sato said. “There’s some pretty exciting stuff.”

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