(By Balachander) Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ: HIBB) posted a 23 percent growth in quarterly earnings, beating market expectations, on double-digit sales increase and expansion of margins.
Earnings increased to $19.4 million or $0.73 per share for the three months ended Feb. 2 from $15.8 million or $0.59 per share in the fourth quarter of last year.
Net sales rose 14 percent to $217 million and comparable store sales went up 4.9 percent.
Wall Street analysts, on average, expected HIBB to earn 71 cents a share on sales growth of 13.80 percent.
"The holiday season was strong due to solid performance in footwear, apparel, and accessories," CEO Jeff Rosenthal said.
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Gross margin improved to 36.1 percent from 35.8 percent.
For the full year, Hibbett earned $73 million on sales of $819 million.
Looking ahead for fiscal 2014, the company expects EPS in the range of $2.85 to $3.05, while analysts expect $3.02. HIBB forecasts comparable store sales growth in the low to mid-single digit range.
As of Feb. 2, the company's store base was 873 in 29 states.
HIBB shares, which have been trading in the 52-week range between $49.78 and $63.39, closed Thursday's trading at $53.63.