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Hibbett Sports Shares Plummet as Heavy Digital Investments Weigh on Investors

Hibbett Sports’ shares are starting the day well into the red after the sporting goods seller posted fourth-quarter results that topped analysts’ expectations, but its forecast for the year ahead missed the mark.

At market open, the shares had tumbled nearly 10 percent to $20.28.

The company said its net sales for the period ended Feb. 3 increased 8 percent to $266.7 million, besting forecasts of $262.5 million. Comparable store sales increased 1.6 percent, with e-commerce sales representing 7.6 percent of total sales during the quarter. Those results were in line with analysts’ bets.

Reported profits fell to $9.7 million, or 51 cents per diluted share, from $12.1 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, in the same period last year. Adjusted profits, at 44 cents per share, were a penny higher than analysts’ predictions for diluted EPS.

Despite beating forecasts, the company — which has significantly ramped up its investments in omnichannel in recent months — offered an outlook that showed a higher-than-anticipated impact from SG&A expenses in fiscal 2019.

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Specifically, Hibbett forecasts an SG&A expense increase in the range of 6 to 8 percent. Diluted EPS are expected to land between $1.65 and $1.95. Comparable store sales are predicted to be down 1 percent to up 2 percent.

“We continue to expand our customer base by connecting with more and more customers through e-commerce and selective new-store growth,” said president and CEO Jeff Rosenthal. “Ease of shopping continues to improve across both channels, and we are expanding our assortment every day to better serve our customers. We will continue to place a significant focus on omnichannel in fiscal 2019, which will bring exciting new functionality to improve the shopping experience and to help us improve the long-term profitability of the business.”

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