Hibbett Sports Improves Comparable Sales for 6th Straight Quarter

Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) said on Friday another quarter of solid sales growth at its more established stores led to a stronger-than-expected 23% improvement in first-quarter profit and a raised fiscal guidance.

The Birmingham, Al.-based operator of sporting goods stores posted net income of $21.3 million, or 76 cents a share, compared with $17.3 million, or 59 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 67 cents.

Revenue for the three months ended April 30 was $203.7 million, up 10.4% from $184.5 million a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $201 million. Sales were fueled by a 6.8% improvement in its comparable stores, marking the company’s six consecutive quarter of higher sales in stores open more than a year.

Hibbett CEO Jeff Rosenthal said the record fist-quarter operating margins were a results of cleaner inventories, improved merchandise assortment execution and benefits from its investments in systems.

“We are pleased with the strong comparable store sales gains, which were led by activewear and footwear and feel good about the strong start to the second quarter as well as our expectations for Fiscal 2012 based on our merchandising strategies, solid inventory position and new store sales productivity,” he said.

Reflecting the optimistic performance, Hibbett raised its fiscal earnings guidance to a range of $1.80 to $1.95 a share. Wall Street is looking for a profit of $1.85.

During the period, Hibbett opened eight new stores, expanded four high performing stores and closed seven underperforming stores, brining its total portfolio to 799 shops in 26 states. Next fiscal year, the company plans to open 50 to 55 new stores, expand 15 and close 10 to 15.