Foolish Forecast: Dick's Is an Athletic Supporter

Sporting-goods retailer Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS  ) is warming up for a first-quarter earnings release tomorrow morning. The market is currently cheering for a strong start to the year, and investors will surely jeer anything less than spectacular -- they have grown accustomed to rapid growth at Dick's. Here's what to look for:

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Twenty-four analysts currently follow Dick's. Eighteen are bullish and six are on the fence with hold ratings.
  • Revenue. Analysts on average expect $852 million in first-quarter sales for year-over-year growth of 32%.
  • Earnings. Analysts project earnings to be $0.37 per share, or 76% above last year's first-quarter earnings of $0.21.

What management says:
Back in March, management anticipated earnings of $0.35-$0.38 per share and namesake same-store sales growth of 4%-6%, or 3% after adjusting for an extra week in 2006. Dick's also plans to open 11 new namesake stores and 10 Golf Galaxy stores during the quarter.

For the full year, management is calling for earnings of $2.37-$2.40 per share for 18% year-over-year growth. In terms of the namesake stores, it expects 2% comps, 45 new stores, and one relocation. It also wants to open 17 new Golf Galaxy stores in 2007.

What management does:
Dick's has been able to steadily increase profitability over at least the past six years, and sales and earnings grew in excess of 20% over the past three years. That's some impressive performance that is expected to last for at least the next year, as management plans to churn out new stores and keep costs in check to further boost the bottom line.

Margin

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Gross

26.9%

27.9%

28%

28.1%

28.2%

28.9%

Operating

5.3%

6.3%

6.2%

6.3%

6.4%

7.3%

Net

2.4%

2.8%

3.4%

3.4%

3.4%

3.6%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Dick's continues impressive operating performance as it opens new stores and appears to have successfully digested the 2004 acquisition of archrival Galyan's. The recent buyout of Golf Galaxy also adds another growth avenue and cost-cutting opportunities. Going forward, the company plans to continue executing on its aggressive growth plans. It will need plenty of it, since the stock is currently trading at just leess than 23 times forward earnings.

That means the market is already discounting at least a few more years of double-digit earnings gains, which is a definite possibility given Dick's stellar track record. However, the competition is fierce, with everyone from Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) to Target (NYSE: TGT  ) to Big 5 Sporting Goods (Nasdaq: BGFV  ) to Hibbett Sports (Nasdaq: HIBB  ) hawking sporting goods. Additionally, Gander Mountain (Nasdaq: GMTN  ) and Cabela's (NYSE: CAB  ) are aggressively rolling out outdoor-enthusiast stores the size of small cities. Tomorrow's earnings release will offer near-term insight on how well Dick's is fending off its rivals.

Shop the aisles for more related Foolishness:

To read more on why Wal-Mart is anInside Value recommendation, or to find other companies at great prices, try a free 30-day trial of the newsletter. Cabela's is aMotley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation.

Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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