Hibbett Sporting Goods is also a shining star on the operations front, with store opening expenses figures down to the penny – not just pennies per share — and operational efficiencies that will enable them to service 800 to 1,000 stores from their DC in Birmingham, Ala. They have such tight control over store placement and leases they can often move a store if the Wal-Mart store moves out of a center where they are located.

Hibbett Sporting Goods posted its first $100 million quarter, reporting that net sales for the fourth quarter ended January 29 increased 17.4% to $107.1 million compared with $91.2 million for the year-ago period. Comparable store sales increased 5.2% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005.

November comps were up in low-single-digits, but the Friday after Thanksgiving and the first two weeks of December were said to be “disappointing.” Strength near the end of December contributed to a mid-single-digit gain for the month and January was said to be “a little stronger” than the combined 5% comp store gain for the first two months of the quarter. February is starting the year off well, comping up in the high-single-digit range.

Apparel was down in low-singles for fourth quarter, but branded goods from Nike and Under Armour was up in high-single-digits. Women’s reportedly “led the way” for the category, but men’s was still up in high-singles. Urban apparel brands like Enyce and Rocawear saw “significant” double-digit gains in the period. The decline in apparel again came from weakness in licensed apparel . College was down in single-digits, hurt for the most part by LSU’s national championship run last year. The women’s and kid’s college business was up in double-digits. Pro licensed apparel was down double-digits.

Footwear was up double-digits, led by better tech product as well classics.

In Hardgoods, the team sports business was up double-digits in the quarter. HIBB called out strength in inflatables, Shock Doctor mouthpieces, and skateboards. Fitness was down in Q4, but saw positive comps later in the quarter.

Preliminary net income for the Q4 increased 26.8% to $8.2 million compared with $6.5 million in the fourth fiscal quarter of last year. Earnings per diluted share increased 29.6% to 35 cents compared with 27 cents in the prior year. The company estimates that the SEC mandated lease adjustments will reduce fiscal 2005 earnings by a penny to three cents per diluted share and two cents to four cents per diluted share for the prior fiscal year.

Hibbett opened a net of 14 new stores for the quarter, opening 15 and closing one. For the year, HIBB opened a net of 54 new stores, bringing the store base to 482 in 22 states. Hibbett plans to open a net of approximately 70 new stores in fiscal 2006, including approximately 14 in the first quarter.

For the fiscal 2006 first quarter, HIBB sees EPS in the 38 cents to 42 cents per diluted share range on a comparable store sales increase in the mid- to high-single-digit range, compared with earnings of 34 cents per diluted share in the prior-year period. Guidance for fiscal 2006 is estimated at $1.26 to $1.32 per diluted share and a comparable store sales increase in the range of 4% to 5% for the year.