Fitness financials: Big 5 Sporting Goods Q4 sales rise, plus Forzani, Stride Rite, Nike, Sears

Fitness financials: Big 5 Sporting Goods Q4 sales rise. Forzani releases holiday season sales. Stride Rite posts Q4 sales increase. Nike names new head of global women's fitness. Sears Holdings announces Nov/Dec store sales, Q4 outlook.
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Big 5 Sporting Goods Q4 sales rise
Same-store sales for Big 5 Sporting Goods (Nasdaq: BGFV) rose 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter, as the company posted gains in all three of its major merchandise segments during the holidays. The increase represented the company's 44th consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales comparisons.

For the fourth quarter, net sales increased $15.6 million, or 7.1 percent, to $234.5 million from net sales of $218.9 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005.

For the fiscal 2006 full year, net sales increased $62.8 million, or 7.7 percent, to $876.8 million from $814.0 million for the fiscal 2005 full year. Same-store sales increased 4.0 percent for the full year.

Steven Miller, the company's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement, "We achieved gains in each of our three major merchandise categories of footwear, hard goods and apparel. Apparel was our strongest performing category for the quarter, benefiting from a number of factors, including favorable winter weather comparisons in many of our markets."

Forzani releases holiday season sales
The Forzani Group (TSX: FGL), Canada's largest retailer of sporting goods, said unseasonably warm weather affected holiday season results for the 10 weeks ended Jan. 7, 2007.

Corporate same-store sales were up 0.5 percent as strong sales in Western Canada were offset by decreases in Eastern-based stores, which were impacted by warm-weather conditions. In the franchise business, predominantly located in the East, same-store sales were down 8.1 percent. Overall same-store sales were down 2.5 percent.

In spite of the sales challenges posed by the weather, the company said corporate store margins continued to track ahead of the prior year in terms of both rate and overall dollars. Corporate store inventories were managed and balanced between the seasonal temperatures in the West and record warm temperatures in the East resulting in normal winter inventory levels exiting the season, it added.

The Forzani Group's retail brands include Sport Chek, Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Mart, National Sports and fitness specialty retailer Fitness Source.

Stride Rite posts Q4 sales increase
The Stride Rite Corp. (NYSE: SRR), parent of the Saucony and Hind brands, reported a 15 percent increase in fourth-quarter net sales and a 20 percent increase in year-end sales.

Net sales for the fourth quarter were $151.8 million compared to $131.6 million in the same period in the prior year. Net income for the fourth quarter totaled $600,000, or $0.02 per diluted share, compared to the net loss of $3.1 million or $0.08 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2005.

For the full year of fiscal 2006, net sales were $706.8 million versus the net sales of $588.2 million in fiscal 2005. Net income totaled $34.3 million, an increase of 40 percent from the $24.6 million reported in fiscal 2005. On a diluted basis, earnings per share were $.92 compared to $0.66 in fiscal 2005. The prior year includes 11 weeks of Saucony results from the date of acquisition, Sept. 16, 2005.

Saucony's fourth-quarter domestic sales, including Hind, were $17.9 million, up 8 percent from 2005's $16.6 million. For the year, Saucony domestic sales, including numbers from Hind, were up 436 percent to $89.2 million compared to $16.6 million the year before. Stride Rite said the sales results reflect the continued emphasis on technical run product and success in the specialty run retail channel.

International sales were strong in fiscal 2006, helped significantly by the addition of Saucony, Stride Rite reported. International net sales increased 86 percent for the full year compared to fiscal 2005. Saucony sales were particularly strong in Canada and Europe, the company noted.

Nike names new head of global women's fitness
Nike (NYSE: NKE) named Heidi O'Neill head of its global women's fitness business. O'Neill, who has been with Nike since 1998, had been the company's vice president of U.S. apparel.

Sears Holdings announces Nov/Dec store sales, Q4 outlook
Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) reported domestic comparable store sales for the nine-week period ended Dec. 30, 2006, for its Kmart and Sears stores. Kmart comparable store sales decreased by 1.2 percent due to lower transaction volumes, while Sears domestic comparable store sales declined by 5.6 percent.

The company said it expects net income for its fourth quarter ending Feb. 3, 2007, will be between $750 million and $830 million, or between $4.87 and $5.39 per fully diluted share. For the full year, it expects net income to be between $1.42 billion and $1.50 billion, or between $9.12 and $9.63 per fully diluted share.

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