Hibbett Sports Inc. managed to beat analyst earnings estimates for the fourth quarter, but sales came up a little short.
Net income for the quarter was $17.4 million, or 76 cents a diluted share, a drop from last year’s $19.9 million, or 79 cents, a year ago. The FactSet estimate was for 73 cents a share.
That helped pushed the stock up more than 4 percent to $38 in early trading.
Sales for the three months ending Jan. 30 increased 2.7 percent to $245.7 million from $239.3 million a year earlier, but it was shy of the FactSet estimate of $247 million. Comparable store sales decreased 0.6 percent.
For the full year, the company’s net income was $70.5 million, which was lower than last year’s $73.6 million. Net sales for fiscal 2016 increased 3.2 percent to $943.1 million over last year’s $913.5 million.
“We were very pleased with our holiday sales driven by improved assortments, new items, and improved replenishment capability,” said Jeff Rosenthal, chief executive officer. “Sales softened in January as we experienced significant weather-related closures and delays in tax refunds.”
Looking ahead, the company is forecasting earnings per diluted share in the range of $2.90 to $3.04 for fiscal 2017. Comp-store sales are expected to increase in the low single-digit range. Hibbett Sports said earnings will be reduced as the company invests in a new point-of-sale system across all the stores in its omnichannel efforts.
For the year, Hibbett opened 71 stores and closed 15 underperforming stores. It plans to open 40 to 50 stores in the coming year. Hibbett’s is mostly in small and mid-sized markets and can often be found near a Wal-Mart. It doesn’t get the attention of Dick’s Sporting Goods because it tends to focus on smaller underserved markets. Hibbett’s is also in some of the energy states where sales have been hurt for most retailers.
Hibbett Sports stock has fallen 27 percent for the past year, but over the past four weeks the stock took a turn and has gained 17 percent in value.