(By Balachander) Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL
) posted a decline in quarterly earnings as lower margins offset growth in sales, while the retailer of athletic apparel raised its forecast for the full year.
Earnings per share (EPS) declined 20 percent to 24 cents for the first quarter, yet topped Wall Street projections by a penny.
Net sales rose 6.5 percent to $319.0 million, versus market consensus of $320.6 million. Comparable store sales advanced 8.0 percent.
Gross margin contracted to 32.8 percent from 34.5 percent in the same period last year. Cost of sales increased 9 percent.
Looking ahead for the year ending March 2, 2013, the company now expects EPS growth in the range of 6 percent to 7 percent on comparable store sales gain of 5 percent to 6 percent. FINL's prior guidance called in for EPS and comps growth in the mid-single digits. Analysts expect EPS of $1.64 per share on revenue of $1.44 billion.
The Indianapolis, Indiana-based company offers athletic casual footwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women, and kids. The company also sells merchandise through its Web-site, finishline.com.
For the fourth quarter, Finish Line earned 81 cents on revenue of $456.27 million and gross margin of 37.2 percent.
The stock, which has been trading between $16.42 and $26.16 over the past 52 weeks, ended Thursday's regular trading at $18.68.