Footwear a Bright Spot for Hibbett Sports Amid Sluggish Sales & Profit

Hibbett Sports today reported mixed fourth-quarter results as sales missed predictions, but profits were in line with forecasts.

The athletic specialty chain said its Q4 net income declined 30 percent, to $12.1 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, consistent with Wall Street’s forecasts.

Sales, however, increased 0.5 percent, to $246.9 million, falling short of analysts’ expectations for sales of $252.1 million.

The firm’s comparable store sales decreased 2.2 percent as both apparel and equipment experienced comp declines, while footwear continued to show stronger sales with a mid-single digit increase.

Results did not meet our expectations for the quarter, although we were pleased with continued strength in our footwear business,” Hibbett president and CEO Jeff Rosenthal said in a release. “The decline in comparable store sales was driven mainly by softer sales in apparel and equipment. Licensed products accounted for much of the weakness in apparel, while equipment was negatively impacted by weakness in team sports, fitness and accessories.

Full-year sales net sales increased 3.2 percent, to $973 million and comps edged up 0.2 percent. Net income tumbled 13 percent, to $61.1 million, or $2.72 per diluted share.

Looking ahead, Hibbett expects to produce full-year diluted EPS in the range of $2.65 to $2.85. Comps are expected to increase in the low-single-digit range.

We are excited about the progress we are making on our major initiatives, and expect them to have a favorable impact on revenue growth in fiscal 2018 and beyond,” Rosenthal said. “Our store-to-home capability is scheduled to begin rollout in the first quarter of this year, which will enable us to use our entire chain to locate an item and send it directly to the customer’s home.

He added, “We are also on track to launch our e-commerce site in the back half of fiscal 2018, which will be fully integrated with our stores, and will include an enriched customer loyalty program. Once implemented, we believe these initiatives will provide an outstanding customer experience, and will position us well to drive long-term growth and shareholder value.”

As of 11:50 a.m. ET, Hibbett shares were up nearly 8 percent, to $29.60.

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