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Hibbett sees happy holiday ahead

Buoyed by its performance during Back to School season, Hibbett Sporting Goods sounded an optimistic tone regarding the holidays after reporting a surprisingly strong third quarter comp increase.

The operator of 904 stores in 31 states said its same store sales increased 4.8% and total sales increased 2.5% to $208 million during the quarter ended November 2.

“We delivered solid comparable store sales in the quarter driven by a strong Back to School (season) led by improved performance in footwear, apparel, and accessories,” said Jeff Rosenthal, Hibbett president and CEO. “Demand for our fall assortment has been positive as well, and we are well positioned going into the holiday season. We continue to be encouraged by the pace and performance of new store openings, and feel confident that our investments in the business will provide a solid foundation for future success.”

The company’s top line growth did not translate to profit growth, primarily due to a one week calendar shift which distorted results. Hibbett said net income declined 9% to $17.3 million, or 66 cents a share, from $19 million, or 71 cents a share. However, the calendar shift accounted for 11 cents of the earnings per share decline. Gross margins declined to 36.8% of sales from 37.2% of sales while expenses increased to 21.9% of sales from 20.7% of sales.