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Amended: Finish Line Q4 Profit Rises, Expects 30% Fall In Q1 EPS - Update

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Shoes and apparel retailer Finish Line Inc. (FINL: Quote) reported Friday a higher fourth-quarter profit, reflecting about 19 percent growth in net sales. For the first quarter, the company expects comparable store sales to be up in the mid-single digit range, but expects earnings per share to be down about 30 percent. The company's shares dropped about 8 percent in the pre-market.

Finish Line said its expectation for the first quarter is based on planned level of strategic investments, combined with lower product margins due to a shift in the promotional calendar, and occupancy cost deleverage.

Glenn Lyon, chairman and chief executive officer of the company said, "As the retail landscape continues to rapidly evolve, we are committed to further distinguishing the Finish Line brand from the competition and building a sustainable multi-division, omni-channel business for the future."

In the fourth quarter, the company's net income increased to $41.92 million or $0.80 per share from $34.25 million or $0.63 per share reported last year.

Adjusted earnings per share, which excluded the impact of impairment charges, increased 24.6 percent to $0.81 from $0.65 per share a year ago. On average, 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings per share of $0.81 for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The fourth quarter ended March 3, 2012 represented 14 weeks, while the prior-year quarter had a 13-week period ended February 26, 2011.

Net sales for the quarter grew 18.6 percent to $456.26 million from $384.6 million in the preceding year, which also exceeded analysts' estimate of $432.62 million. Comparable store sales increased 10.8 percent from last year. Digital sales, which are included in the comparable store sales results, increased 38.3 percent.

Looking ahead to the fiscal year ending March 2, 2013, the company expects to generate earnings per share growth in the mid-single digits, with comparable store sales also expected in the mid-single digits.

Finish Line added that as its investments begin to drive returns, it expects earnings per share growth to accelerate into the low- to mid-teens beginning in fiscal 2014.

FINL closed Thursday's regular trading at $25.34 on the Nasdaq. In the pre-market activity, the shares are down 8.05 percent.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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