Hibbett Sports Inc. provided preliminary results for the first quarter ended April 29, 2017.

Based on softer sales trends to start the year, comparable store sales are expected to decrease by approximately 4 percent to 5 percent for the first quarter ending April 29, 2017. The decline in sales, along with additional clearance markdowns, is expected to result in earnings per diluted share in the range of 94 cents to 97 cents.

For the full year, earnings per diluted share are expected to be in the range of $2.35 to $2.55, which assumes additional markdown pressure going forward to liquidate aged inventory.

This compares with previous full-year guidance of earnings per diluted share in the range of $2.65 to $2.85. Hibbett didn’t offer guidance specifically for the first quarter but Wall Street’s target on average was $1.15 a share.

In 2016, Hibbett Sports earned $1.22 in the first quarter and $2.72 in the full year.

Jeff Rosenthal, president and chief executive officer, stated, “We experienced a slow start to the quarter with a double-digit decline in comparable store sales in February, most of which we believe was attributable to a delay in tax refunds. Comparable store sales improved significantly in March to the positive mid-single digit range, but did not offset the decline in February. So far in April, we are very pleased with continued comparable store sales in the mid-single digit range, driven by strength in footwear and the successful rollout of our store-to-store/home initiative. Looking forward, we believe that our store-to-store/home capability and the launch of our e-commerce initiative in the third quarter will help drive comparable store sales. Simultaneously in the first quarter, we increased our emphasis on expense controls, which we believe will help to maximize profitability.”

Hibbett plans to issue its first quarter earnings release before the market opens on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Hibbett Sports, Inc. operates athletic specialty stores in small to mid-sized markets, predominately in the South, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the United States.

Photo courtesy Hibbett Sports