By  on June 27, 2014

Strong comparable-store sales and a growing relationship with Macy’s Inc. helped The Finish Line Inc. more than double its first-quarter profits, which easily exceeded analysts’ consensus estimates.

In the 13 weeks ended May 31, the Indianapolis-based retailer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories registered net income of $12.4 million, or 25 cents a diluted share, nearly two-and-a-half times the $5.1 million, or 10 cents, posted during the first quarter of fiscal 2013. On an adjusted basis, eliminating the effect of impairment charges, EPS hit 28 cents, 7 cents above the analysts’ consensus estimate of 21 cents.

Sales rose 15.8 percent to $406.5 million from $351.1 million and were up 5 percent on a comparable-store basis. Gross margin expanded to 31.7 percent of sales from 30.5 percent a year ago.

“The integration of our store and digital operations is allowing us to deliver great product and service to consumers in a seamless fashion no matter what channel they choose to shop,” said Glenn Lyon, chairman and chief executive officer. “At the same time, we are reaching new consumers and expanding market share through our growing relationship with Macy’s.”

The number of Finish Line stores contracted to 645 at the end of the quarter from 651 a year ago, and the number of stores within its Running Specialty unit increased to 58 from 38. Over the same time frame, the number of branded shops within Macy’s stores rose to 262 from 44. The square footage within Macy’s stores increased seven-fold to 295,000 from 42,000.

The company reaffirmed earlier guidance for full-year adjusted earnings per share to increase in the high-single- to low-double-digit range from last year’s mark of $1.66 and for comps to rise at a mid-single-digit rate.

In Nasdaq trading Friday, shares of Finish Line opened at $30, up 85 cents or 2.9 percent.

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