Foot Locker Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter income more than doubled from a year ago as sales rose 5.1 percent.
For the three months ended Jan. 29, income was $57 million, or 36 cents a diluted share, up from $23 million, or 14 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding nonrecurring items in both periods, income was $61 million, or 39 cents a diluted share, 2 cents above the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Yahoo Finance, and versus $39 million, or 24 cents, a year ago.
Sales were $1.39 billion compared with $1.33 billion last year. Comparable-store sales increased 7.3 percent.
Ken Hicks, chairman and chief executive officer, said, “The significant increase in our fourth-quarter net income resulted from strong comparable-store sales growth and gross margin rate expansion, as well as effective expense management.”
On the basis of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), gross margin expanded 320 basis points, to 30.9 percent of sales in the 2010 quarter from 27.7 percent in the 2009 quarter.
Hicks said the firm’s execution of its new strategic plan has led to “positive strides toward achieving our long-term financial objectives.” Among the details of that plan are a diversification of its footwear offerings and greater emphasis on both branded and private label apparel.
For the year, income more than tripled to $169 million, or $1.07 a diluted share, from $48 million, or 30 cents, in 2009. Sales rose 4 percent to $5.05 billion from $4.85 billion.
Inventory at yearend was $1.06 billion, 2.1 percent higher than a year ago.
The company will hold a conference call Thursday morning to discuss the results.