OSHMAN’S NET SOARS IN QUARTER

NEW YORK — Oshman’s Sporting Goods’ forecast of dramatic improvement in operating results was realized in the fourth quarter and year.
In the quarter ended Feb. 3, net income soared nearly fivefold to $7.3 million, or $1.17 a diluted share, from $1.5 million, or 25 cents, in the prior-year period. Earnings include a $1.5 million tax benefit in the most recent quarter and a $66,000 benefit in the year-ago period.
Sales cracked the $100 million mark for the quarter, growing 12.5 percent to $105.4 million from $93.7 million in last year’s quarter. Same-store sales increased 6.2 percent against a 1.7 percent comp performance in the 1999 quarter.
“Sales gains were less driven by hot items, such as scooters, than in the third quarter,” said Alvin Lubetkin, president and chief executive of the Houston-based company, in a statement. “Instead they reflected strong results in most categories, especially hard lines and shoes.”
Lubetkin noted sharp improvements in several key performance areas, including selling and administrative expenses, which dropped to 30.4 percent of sales for the year versus 34.3 percent a year ago, and gross margin, up to 33.8 percent of sales from 32.3 percent a year ago.
For the year, net income catapulted to $21 million, or $3.46 a diluted share, from a loss of $3.6 million, or 62 cents, in the prior year. The most recent year includes a $972,000 aftertax benefit from the effect of an inventory accounting change, as well as a $795,000 income tax benefit.
Sales for the year were $330.5 million, 7.8 percent higher than the $306.5 million registered in 1999. Comps increased 7.4 percent last year versus 0.9 percent in the prior year.
Oshman’s, which operates 58 sporting goods stores, agreed to merge with a unit of Gart Sports Co. on Feb. 22 in a transaction valued at about $84 million.