Foot Locker posted earnings that rose to $184 million, or $1.29 a share, from $162 million, or $1.10 a share, a year ago. Earnings topped analysts' expectations of $1.23 per share, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue also climbed 2.6% to about $1.9 billion, narrowly beating estimates.
The company said, excluding the effect of foreign currency fluctuations, total sales for the first quarter rose 7.9%. Gross margin widened to 35% from 34.6% a year ago, while inventory levels were down 2.7%. Foot Locker also said the selling, general, and administrative expense rate improved to 18% of sales from 19%.
Foot Locker president and chief executive officer Richard Johnson said in a statement, "We have hit the ground running in 2015, producing the most profitable quarter in our history. We are focused on executing the updated strategic priorities that we described in our investor meeting in March, and the results in the first quarter demonstrate that we remain on the right track, with strong performances across our channels, geographies, banners and categories. Our core business improved and we made progress on each of our growth pillars, a team accomplishment of which we are all very proud."
The company's cash totaled $986 million, while the debt on its balance sheet was $133 million.
Foot Locker said it spent approximately $129 million to repurchase 2.3 million shares during the quarter, and paid its quarterly stock dividend of 25 cents, spending $35 million.