Should You Sprint Over to the Finish Line?

While many fashion retailers are feeling the pressure of the economy, The Finish Line is off to the races, trading at all-time highs following solid company results. With others in the industry such as Hibbett Sports and Foot Locket  also running hard, the fundamental bull market for sneakers and sportswear may be here to stay for a long while.

The Finish Line's results
The Finish Line reported fiscal third-quarter results on Dec. 20. Net sales rocketed 22.9% to $364.5 million. Same-store sales jumped 7.1%. Adjusted earnings per share popped to $0.06 compared to just $0.01 a year ago.

CEO Glenn Lyon credits the success to the company's strengthening of customer relationships and brand partnerships, as well as continuously refining its strategies. For the full fiscal year, the company raised its guidance. It now expects a 3%-4% increase in same-store sales and a 9%-12% increase in earnings per share to $1.60-$1.65.

Conference call
In the call, Lyon began by mentioning that The Finish Line had a very strong Thanksgiving weekend. The company has made many investments in technology which are paying off. For example, on Black Friday the company processed over 70,000 transactions using handheld devices. During busy periods, this cuts the wait time for customers while improving the experience, driving higher average sales per guest.

President Samuel Sato revealed that Black Friday weekend same-store sales skyrocketed 20%. E-commerce sales were also strong "out of the gate and accelerated into Cyber Monday and throughout that week."

Lyon concluded his prepared remarks by mentioning that same-store sales for December were already in the mid-single digits for growth, but what The Finish Line is creating isn't just for one quarter or one holiday season but rather a long-term sustainable build-out of growth. Digital already provides 14% of the company's sales, and Lyon sees that going up to 20%. He's very confident about both the distant and near future for The Finish Line and stated, "So this is a good time for us, good time for our segment."

Hibbett Sports
Hibbett Sports is also seeing a strong performance. Last quarter, sales rose 2.5% to $208 million while same-store sales leaped 4.8%. Adjusted earnings per share jumped 8.5% to $0.77. Jeff Rosenthal credited the success simply to merchandising, and the company expects to report a great holiday season. He revealed during the conference call that October same-store sales rose a very strong 7.8%. This provides further evidence that The Finish Line's industry is very healthy.

Foot Locker
Meanwhile, Foot Locker too continues to impress. Last quarter, Foot Locker reported that revenue increased 6.4%, same-store sales rose 4.1%, and adjusted earnings per share hopped 8% to $0.68. CEO Ken C. Hick credited "many strategies" as the reason for the success, and he sees the momentum for Foot Locker continuing. Hick said that Foot Locker is "continuing to identify new opportunities and develop ideas further in order to leverage our strengths and build an even stronger business." Foot Locker provides additional evidence that The Finish Line is in the right industry.

Foolish final thoughts
While there are always risks and uncertainties with any company, it's difficult to find bad things to say about The Finish Line. Current results and outlook appear to be strong and getting stronger, and the industry as a whole is bucking the weak-ish broad retail environment. The Finish Line deserves a close look by Fools looking for a highly profitable and growing company in the consumer retail business.

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The article Should You Sprint Over to the Finish Line? originally appeared on

Nickey Friedman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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