Fitness financials: Big 5's Q4 same-store sales down 8.6 percent, plus Sears, Costco, Wal-Mart, Finish Line

Big 5's Q4 same-store sales down 8.6 percent. Sears December same-store sales fall 7.3 percent. Costco December same-store sales drop 4 percent. Wal-Mart's sales take a hit in December. Finish Line elects director, declares cash dividend.
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Big 5's Q4 same-store sales down 8.6 percent

Big 5 Sporting Goods (Nasdaq: BGFV) said same-store sales fell 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter as fewer customers visited its stores. Despite that, it offered new guidance toward the higher end of its previous estimates for the quarter and the year, noting it was managing its inventories and not significantly reducing its product margins.

For the fourth quarter, the company said sales fell 5.4 percent to $219.6 million, down from $232.1 million in the year-earlier period.

For the full year, sales fell 3.7 percent to $864.7 million, from $898.3 million last year. Same-store sales fell 7 percent for the year.

The company reported that its three major categories performed well in the quarter, with hardgoods the strongest, followed by footwear and apparel.

It's focused on controlling expenses and managing inventories, it said, adding that per-store inventories ended the year about 11 percent lower than the previous year.

The company's positive cash flow allowed it to reduce borrowings under its credit facility to $96.5 million at the end of the year, compared with $103.4 million at the end of the previous year.

The company said it expects earnings per share in the fourth quarter to range from $0.13 to $0.16, which was toward the upper end of its previously issued guidance of $0.07 to $0.17.

The company said for the year it expects earnings per share to range from $0.61 to $0.64, which is also toward the higher end of its previous estimate of a range of $0.55 to $0.65.

Sears December same-store sales fall 7.3 percent

Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD) said December same-store sales dropped 7.3 percent, weighed down by weak sales at domestic Sears stores.

For the period ended Jan. 3, Kmart same-store sales fell 1.1 percent, while Sears domestic same-store sales dropped 12.8 percent.

The company blamed the soft performance of its namesake stores on lower sales across most of its hardlines and apparel segments, as well the ongoing housing downturn and eroding credit.

For the quarter- and year-to-date, same-store sales are off 7.9 percent.

Sears also said it expects fourth-quarter profit between $300 million and $380 million, or $2.44 to $3.09 per share. It reported net income of $426 million, or $3.17 per share, in the prior-year period.

Sears predicts full-year earnings for the period ended Jan. 31 in a range of $163 million to $243 million, or $1.27 to $1.90 per share.

Costco December same-store sales drop 4 percent

Costco Wholesale (Nasdaq: COST) said its same-store sales dropped 4 percent in December, hit by lower gas prices and the negative effect of the stronger U.S. dollar on international sales.

Costco said same-store sales fell 2 percent in the U.S. and 11 percent abroad. Excluding gas sales, U.S. same-store sales edged up 2 percent. International same-store sales excluding the impact of foreign exchange rose 9 percent.

Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 4 dipped 2 percent to $7.4 billion.

Wal-Mart's sales take a hit in December

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) said its December sales were lower than expected as a result of the difficult economy and severe winter weather in some regions.

Same-store sales at Wal-Mart rose 1.7 percent in December, with a 1.9 percent rise at Wal-Mart U.S. and a 0.1 percent rise at warehouse operator Sam's Club. Wal-Mart had expected a gain of 1.0 percent to 3.0 percent.

Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 1 edged down 0.1 percent to $46.51 billion from $46.57 billion last year.

Finish Line elects director, declares cash dividend

The Finish Line's (Nasdaq: FINL) board of directors elected Glenn S. Lyon as a new director until 2011. Lyon became the CEO of The Finish Line on Dec. 1, 2008. Prior to that, he was the company's president since October 2003.

The board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.03 per share of Class A and Class B common stock. The quarterly cash dividend will be payable on March 16 to shareholders of record on Feb. 27.

--Compiled by Wendy Geister

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