Finish Line and Financial Results and Public Companies and Retail and Real Estate & Retail

Finish Line profit exceeds analyst expectations

December 22, 2009

The Finish Line Inc. barely eked into the black in its fiscal third quarter, but even that exceeded analysts’ expectations.

Excluding a one-time tax benefit tied to its aborted merger with Genesco Inc., the Indianapolis-based athletic apparel retailer on Tuesday reported a $16,000 profit from continuing operations, compared to a loss of $6.5 million in the same period last year.

Analysts predicted a loss of 9 cents per share in the quarter ended Nov. 28.

Sales at stores open at least a year—a key retail measure—increased 1.7 percent; they dropped 3.3 percent in the year-ago period. Comparable-store sales climbed another 4.9 percent from Nov. 29 to Dec. 20, the company said.

Total net sales were down 0.2 percent, from $240.6 million a year ago to $240.1 million in the third quarter of 2009.

The company also managed to build its balance sheet. The Finish Line said it ended the period with no interest-bearing debt and $149.2 million in cash and cash equivalents—up from $55.1 million a year ago.

“We continue to display an ability to perform well and improve our business in what remains a cautious consumer environment,” CEO Glenn Lyon said in a prepared statement. “In the third quarter, we effectively controlled expenses, managed inventories and improved store execution.”

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