Finish Line reports strong quarter, soft outlook

The Finish Line Inc. on Thursday turned in a higher-than-expected profit in the fiscal fourth quarter, rebounding from a steep loss last quarter of $21.8 million.

For the fiscal period ended Feb. 27, the Indianapolis-based retailer of athletic apparel reported profit of $4 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with earnings of $43 million, or 87 cents per share, in the same period of the previous year.

Earnings, adjusted for store-impairment costs and the write-off of technology assets, were 83 cents per share.

The adjusted results exceeded the average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research of 80 cents per share.

Shares of Finish Line opened Thursday morning at $18.94 each, but quickly fell by more than 4 percent on weak earnings guidance.

The retailer said it expects full-year earnings this year to be $1.50 to $1.56 per share, lower than Wall Street's estimates for $1.70 per share.

Finish Line posted quarterly revenue of $580.3 million, also surpassing analyst forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected revenue of $570.9 million.

Same-store sales, a key figure that considers stores open at least a year, increased 4.6 percent.

“We worked diligently to improve digital fulfillment rates and flow new inventory to our stores during the fourth quarter, which helped us achieve a mid-single-digit comparable sales increase,” Finish Line CEO Sam Sato said in a written statement.

Sato, who previously served as company president, assumed leadership of Finish Line on Feb. 28 from Glenn Lyon. Lyon, who had been CEO since 2008, is serving as executive chairman of the board through Dec. 31 before becoming non-executive chairman.

For the entire fiscal year, the company reported profit of $21.9 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with $82 million, or $1.70 per share in fiscal 2015.

The company’s annual revenue grew slightly, to $1.9 billion, from $1.8 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Same-store sales for the full year increased 1.8 percent.

Finish Line shares have increased roughly 5 percent since the beginning of the year but have fallen 22 percent over the last 12 months.

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