Hibbett Profit Surges

Hibbett Sports Inc. continued its momentum in the fourth quarter.

And footwear is expected to drive it further going forward at the Birmingham, Ala.-based retailer, which earned 6 percent more in the fourth quarter of 2010 over the fourth quarter of 2009.

Net income for the period ended Jan. 29, 2011, was $12.5 million, or 44 cents a share, versus $11.8 million, or 40 cents, a year ago. Revenue advanced 4 percent to $173.2 million, from $166.8 million. Analysts were looking for EPS of 43 cents, as polled by Yahoo Finance.

For the full year, net income surged 43 percent to $46.4 million, from $32.5 million in fiscal 2010. Net sales increased 12 percent to $665 million, from $593.5 million, buoyed by comparable-store sales, which increased 9.8 percent in the year.

“While sales in January were impacted by a delay in income tax rapid refunds, as well as a series of snowstorms causing widespread store closings in many of our markets, we continued to benefit from the underlying strength in our business. We achieved record earnings for the year,” said Jeff Rosenthal, Hibbett’s president and CEO, in a statement.

The firm expects footwear to be a strong sales driver in the first half of the year.

“We really feel like our footwear business is really hitting [its] stride at this point in time. It’s not only from the assortment and the trend that’s going on, but it’s the way that we’re sending it to the stores and making sure that we’re … making some good stands on product that can go to further doors down from an allocation perspective,” said Rebecca Jones, Hibbett’s VP of merchandising.

Hibbett now expects full year EPS for fiscal 2012 to be in the range of $1.70 to $1.90 and an increase in comparable-store sales in the low to mid single digit range.

The firm ended the year with $75.5 million in cash and cash equivalents, up from $49.7 a year ago, and no long-term debt.

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