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Hibbett Sports Inc. reported first-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations but while sales increased, they were shy of the estimates. The stock is rising by more than 14 percent in pre-market trading to $37 on the results, since so many other retailers have disappointed this earnings season.

Net income for the quarter rose 1.8 percent to $27.9 million, or $1.22 a diluted share, up from $27.4 million, or $1.09 cents, a year ago. The FactSet estimate was for earnings per share of $1.21.

Sales for the three months ending April 30 increased 4.6 percent to $282.1 million from $269.8 million a year earlier. This was light of the FactSet estimate for sales of $285 million. Comparable-store sales increased 1.1 percent.

“During the quarter, we showed improved performance in our apparel assortment and believe that our strategy is gaining traction in this area,” said chief executive officer Jeff Rosenthal. “Footwear also posted positive results, driven by strong performance in our lifestyle category. We were also pleased with the increase in gross margin rate, driven by solid management of markdowns and promotions, while reducing inventory levels to be more in line with sales.”

Gross profit was 37.2 percent, a slight increase over last year’s 37.0 percent for the same period. During the quarter, Hibbett opened 17 stores and closed eight underperforming units.

Hibbett is maintaining its guidance for the full year for earnings per share in the range of $2.90 to $3.04. The Capital IQ estimate is for $2.98. Comparable-store sales are forecast to increase in the low single-digit range.

Hibbett shares have fallen 29 percent for the past year. But the stock seems to be staging a comeback and year-to-date has gained 6 percent.

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