Finish Line’s second-quarter profit jumps to $16.8M

Indianapolis-based The Finish Line Inc. said Thursday that its second-quarter profit rose as it rebounded from a messy quarter a year earlier after the athletic shoe retailer sold its unsuccessful Man Alive hip-hop stores.

The company said it earned $16.8 million, or 31 cents per share, during the quarter that ended Aug. 28, after losing $874,000, or 2 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Revenue rose slightly to $301.1 million, from $298.7 million in 2009.

The loss a year earlier mostly resulted from exiting the street wear business in July 2009.

Sales at stores open at least a year—a key indicator for retailers because it excludes results from stores that open or close during the year—rose 2 percent, after declining 9.9 percent a year earlier.

The company ended the quarter with no interest-bearing debt and $253.7 million in cash and equivalents, up from $142.9 million a year earlier.

Like many of its peers, The Finish Line has gotten a boost from the growing popularity of so-called "toning shoes"—oddly shaped footwear with an unstable sole that throws off the user's balance, which manufacturers say help to burn calories, improve posture and firm up the buttocks, thighs and calves. As IBJ reported in August, investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates the shoes could generate $70 million in revenue for Finish Line in fiscal 2011, or about 6 percent of the company’s revenue.

The company also is "assessing growth opportunities outside of our core business," Chairman and CEO Glenn Lyon said in a prepared statement. 

Indeed, the chain is working on a three-part strategy for spending its accumulated cash: reinvesting in the core Finish Line business, returning funds to shareholders through higher dividends and share repurchases, and diversifying its business either with a new retail concept developed in-house or through acquisitions.

For the first half of this fiscal year, the company posted a profit of $30.5 million, or 56 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.5 million, or 3 cents per share, during the first half of 2009. Revenue rose 4.5 percent to $583.5 million, from $557.8 million a year earlier.

Finish Line operates 667 stores in 47 states.

Its shares had risen 46 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $15.69 before the results were released. They fell $1.94, or 12.4 percent, to $13.75 in aftermarket trading.

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