Hibbett Sports, Inc. cut its fourth quarter earnings guidance after finding sales slowed in the latter half of January. HIBB now expects fourth quarter earnings between 42 cents and 44 cents a share, which compares to 40 cents in the prior-year Q4. HIBB had raised its guidance in November to 47 cents to 50 cents a share after a strong early start to the holiday selling season HIBB shares slipped 1.2% last week to close at $31.60 on Friday.

Sales for the 13-week period ended Jan. 29 increased 4.0% to $173.5 million with comparable-store sales up 1.3%.

Jeff Rosenthal, president and CEO, stated, “After a strong start to the quarter, we were disappointed with comparable store sales in the latter half of January. Factors affecting our sales performance include a delay in income tax rapid refunds and inclement weather issues throughout many of our markets. Overall, fiscal 2011 is on track to be a record year for earnings per share and we exceeded our new store growth expectations.”

Sales for fiscal 2011 increased 12.1% to $665.3 million. Same-store sales increased 9.8%. The new earnings guidance equates to approximately $1.58 to $1.60 per diluted share for fiscal 2011, which compares with earnings of $1.12 a share in fiscal 2010.