By  on March 30, 2009

Finish Line Inc.’s fourth-quarter losses were both less than expected and an improvement over the firm’s deficit in the year-ago quarter.

The Indianapolis-based athletic goods retailer narrowed its net loss to $1.4 million, or 3 cents a diluted share, in the period ended Feb. 28, from $39.2 million, or 83 cents a share, a year earlier, when costs from a failed merger with Nashville-based Genesco Inc. weighed down results. Excluding impairment and merger-related charges and other items, income from continuing operations was $19.6 million, or 36 cents a share, 4 cents ahead of the analyst consensus estimate carried by Yahoo Finance but below the 45 cents reported in the prior-year quarter. Revenues slid 4.9 percent to $364.1 million from $382.8 million and sales declined 3.9 percent on a same-store basis.

Shares of Finish Line dropped 21 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $6.48 on Monday.

Finish Line has been cutting its inventory and costs to offset a sharp pullback in consumer spending. According to SpendingPulse, a service of MasterCard, U.S. footwear expenditures shrank 14.4 percent in January and 15.8 percent in February from prior-year levels.

“Our management team is revisiting every contract, working with every department and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to searching for cost-savings opportunities that will help enhance the financial performance of our company,” said chief executive officer Glenn Lyon on the company earnings call.

For the year, the company registered net income of $3.8 million, or 7 cents a share, versus a net loss of $60.8 million, or $1.29 a share, last year. Sales declined 1.2 percent to $1.26 billion from $1.28 billion as same-store sales dropped 0.4 percent.

Finish Line operates 688 of its namesake stores in 47 states and 85 Man Alive stores in 19 states.

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