Sports Authority Guides Down - TheStreet

Sports Authority's

(TSA)

fourth-quarter earnings surged 75% from a year ago, beating estimates, but the company guided first-quarter results sharply lower.

The retailer earned $25.5 million, or 97 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $14.6 million, or 55 cents a share, a year ago. Sales were virtually unchanged from a year ago at $713.8 million. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 93 cents a share on sales of $712.4 million.

The company's year-ago quarter had merger charges, before which the company earned $28.3 million, or $1.08 a share.

Sports Authority expects to earn 25 cents to 27 cents a share before items in the first quarter, well short of the 37 cents a share Wall Street had forecast. For all of 2005, the company expects to earn $1.90 to $1.95 a share, compared with analysts' consensus estimate of $2.17 a share.

Same-store sales will rise 1% to 2% from a year ago in the first quarter and 2% from 2004 in full-year 2005, the company predicted.

In the fourth quarter, the company said, "our winter and outdoor product categories were impacted by unseasonable weather; however, we were very pleased with the strong sales gains we registered in apparel and the continued positive performance of our remodeled stores. While we recognize that there is still much work to be done, we are encouraged about the direction of our business and remain committed to executing a strategy that will result in long-term growth and increased shareholder value."