Fitness financials: Forzani tells shareholders to ignore hedge fund proxy, plus Hibbett Sports, Sears, Foot Locker

Forzani told shareholders to ignore a hedge fund proxy, Hibbett Sports' Q1 earnings were up 16 percent, Sears reversed its loss for Q1, and Foot Locker's Q1 profit rose substantially.

Forzani tells shareholders to ignore hedge fund proxy

To head off what it describes as a dissident proxy circular by a disgruntled hedge fund, the Forzani Group (TSX: FGL) is mailing shareholders an alternative proxy and letter explaining why they should ignore the New York hedge fund.

In the Crescendo Partners' proxy, it told shareholders to oppose two Forzani nominees for election to the board of directors.

In the Forzani letter, Chairman John Forzani provides a number of reasons why shareholders should vote for all eight of its nominees, such as the company has a strong board of directors, good corporate governance, a clear and focused strategy, and a track record of success.

Forzani added that Crescendo has offered two nominees who bring lesser qualifications, and said Crescendo has justified its campaign with false and misleading statements, while showing no regard whatsoever for the strategic importance of Quebec to the company and its shareholders.

Forzani's annual meeting is scheduled for June 10.

The Forzani Group is Canada's largest national retailer of sporting goods, operating Sport Chek, Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Mart and Fitness Source, among others.

Hibbett Sports' Q1 earnings up 16 percent

Hibbett Sports (Nasdaq: HIBB) said it earned a 16-percent higher first-quarter profit, helped by a rise in same-store sales, lower inventory and stronger sales.

For the quarter ended May 2, profit rose to $10.9 million, or $0.38 per share, compared with $9.4 million, or $0.32 cents per share, last year.

Sales rose 8 percent to $157.7 million from $145.8 million, as same-store sales rose 2.4 percent.

The company said apparel and shoes sold well, but equipment did poorly. The company also lowered inventory and improved cash flow.

Looking forward, the company said it expects earnings between $1.03 and $1.17 for the 2010 fiscal year, with same-store sales in the low single digits.

Sears reverses loss for Q1

Working to manage inventory in its stores, Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD) reversed a year-ago loss and posted a first-quarter profit of $26 million.

The results amounted to a profit of $0.21 per share compared to a loss of $56 million, or $0.43 per share, last year.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned $47 million, or $0.38 per share, for the three months that ended May 3.

Sales fell more than 9 percent to $10.06 billion, from $11.07 billion in the same period last year.

Same-store sales in its U.S. Sears stores dropped 11.7 percent. In Kmart stores, it fell 2.1 percent.

Sears also said it entered an amended credit agreement to extend the maturity date of a revolving facility to June 2012. The original $4 billion credit agreement was to expire in March 2011. The new agreement allows Sears to increase its borrowing capacity to $4.1 billion until March 2011.

Foot Locker Q1 profit jumps

First-quarter profit for Foot Locker (NYSE: FL) was substantially higher due to the absence of charges that weighed down results a year earlier.

For the quarter ended May 2, net income rose to $31 million, or $0.20 per share, compared with $3 million, or $0.02 per share, last year.

Excluding store closing expenses of $0.02 per share and an impairment charge of $0.10 per share a year earlier, the company said profit in the 2008 quarter was $21 million, or $0.14 per share.

Revenue dropped 7 percent to $1.22 billion from $1.31 billion, hurt by a stronger dollar and a 2.4 percent decline in same-store sales.

During the quarter, selling, general and administrative expenses declined to $860 million from $943 million a year earlier.

--Compiled by Wendy Geister

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