Academy Sports + Outdoors raised its guidance for the year after reporting first-quarter earnings that came in well above Wall Street estimates. The 38.9 percent same-store gain was driven by continued double-digit consumer demand across all product categories, notably in Apparel, Footwear and Team Sports.

First Quarter 2021 Results

  • Net sales in the first quarter ended May 1 increased 39.1 percent to a first-quarter record $1.58 billion, while comparable sales increased 38.9 percent. Sales grew 46.8 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019. The growth was driven by continued double-digit consumer demand across all product categories, notably in Apparel, Footwear and Team Sports, and across its entire geographic footprint. E-commerce sales declined 21.0 percent, as the website anniversaried triple-digit growth in the first quarter of 2020, as consumers shifted to online ordering at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Over the last two years, E-commerce sales increased 300.0 percent during the first quarter.
  • Gross margin increased 89.2 percent to $563.7 million, the highest quarterly gross profit in the company’s history. The gross margin rate increased 950 basis points to 35.7 percent. This growth was primarily driven by improved merchandise margins from a favorable mix shift, higher average unit retails, fewer promotions, and less clearance activity.
  • The growth in gross profit, coupled with 450 basis points of selling, general & administrative expense leverage, resulted in $224.9 million of pre-tax income versus a loss of $9.5 million in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Net income was $177.8 million compared to a loss of $10.0 million in Q1 2020. Diluted earnings per share were $1.84 compared to a loss of $0.14 in the prior-year quarter. Pro forma adjusted net income, which excludes the impact of certain non-cash and extraordinary items, increased from $0.4 million to $182.5 million. Pro forma diluted earnings per share were $1.89 compared to $0.01 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Adjusted EPS of $1.89 compared to Wall Street’s consensus estimate of 83 cents. Sales of $1.580 billion were just ahead of Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $1.579 billion.

“The Academy Sports + Outdoors team again generated record-breaking sales and profits, while delivering fun to our customers,” said Ken Hicks, Chairman, President and CEO. “The strategic initiatives implemented over the last few years, a shift in consumer spending into sports and outdoor categories, government-issued stimulus checks, the addition of new customers and more frequent shopping by existing customers are driving consistent growth. We believe our broad, value-based assortment, available through a true omnichannel experience, positions us to continue to capitalize on these market trends.”

Balance Sheet Update
As of the end of the first quarter, the company’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $593.3 million and no amounts were drawn on its credit facility. During the first quarter, net cash provided by operating activities was $219.2 million compared to $90.8 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Subsequent to the end of the first quarter, on May 10, 2021, Academy’s largest shareholders completed a secondary offering of the company’s common stock and Academy purchased and retired 3.2 million shares for approximately $100 million. As a result of this reduction in shares owned by the largest owners, Academy’s largest shareholder owned approximately 31 percent of the company. In addition to the stock repurchase, the company paid down $99 million of its outstanding term loan and refinanced the loan’s interest rate from LIBOR + 5.0 percent to LIBOR + 3.75 percent.

Michael Mullican, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, “Based on the extraordinary sales and margin results, the company has fortified its balance sheet and is also increasing its full-year earnings outlook. Academy’s cash balance is stronger today than at the end of fiscal 2020 even after using $199 million to repurchase shares and pay down a portion of its term loan.”

2021 Outlook

While there is still economic uncertainty from the impact of COVID-19 and other external factors, based on the strong performance of the first quarter and the visibility the company has for the remainder of 2021, it is increasing its fiscal 2021 guidance as follows:

  • Comparable sales to climb in the range of 6.0 percent to 9.0 percent. Previously, same-stores were expected to range from negative 2 percent to positive 2 percent;
  • Net Income is expected to range from $400.0 million to $435.0 million. Previously, earnings were expected in the range of $265.0 million to $290.0 million; and
  • EPS, on a diluted basis, is expected to range from $4.15 to $4.50. Previously, EPS was expected in the range of $2.70 to $2.95.

Photo courtesy Academy Sports + Outdoors