NEW YORK — Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. overcame merger costs and other expenses to pull out an earnings gain of 53.6 percent in the fourth quarter on a 66 percent surge in sales.

Earnings in the quarter ended Jan. 29 — including expenses related to its July 2004 acquisition of Galyan’s Trading Co. — rose to $39.9 million, or 75 cents a share, from $26 million, or 50 cents, in the prior-year period. The athletic chain’s sales grew to $788 million from $474.4 million, helped by a same-store sales gain of 1.1 percent and the inclusion of Galyan’s operations.

Edward W. Stack, Dick’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “We are reporting another strong quarter of operating results and effective management of inventory, while making considerable progress in the conversion of the Galyan’s stores. Regarding the Galyan’s conversion, we have converted the point-of-sale systems in the stores, re-signed the stores…closed the corporate office and converted all activity onto Dick’s systems. We also have made progress on remerchandising stores to place more of an emphasis on sporting goods.”

The Pittsburgh-based retailer operates 234 stores, which sell equipment, apparel and accessories, and said it plans to open 25 stores in 2005. Dick’s will close six units because of overlapping markets between Galyan’s and Dick’s locations.

For the year, earnings including costs were up to $66.9 million, or $1.26 cents, up from $50.7 million, or $1.01, in 2003. Sales gained 43.4 percent to $2.11 billion and were up 2.6 percent on a same-store basis.

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