Should You Take a Swing at Dick's Sporting Goods?

With Major League Baseball in full swing and the NHL and the NBA in the midst of their respective playoffs, it might be a good time for you to consider stocks that make big money from sports. While sports and stocks might not seem like a match, avid sports fans have good reason to consider investing in companies that profit from the great outdoors.

Unfortunately, Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS  ) released a dud of a first-quarter earnings report, which calls into question whether, from a business perspective, the outdoors are all that great. Dick's specializes in two specific areas, golf and hunting, which both contributed negatively to the company's disappointing results. The harsh winter weather has taken a severe bite out of spring sporting activities. These same conditions hit Cabela's (NYSE: CAB  ) in its first quarter.

However, it's premature to write off Dick's entirely. The stock collapsed 18% after its earnings report, but that seems to have more to do with unreasonable expectations rather than a true deterioration of the company.

First-quarter results were not as bad as the market's reaction
Often in the stock market, companies that demonstrate solid growth catch the attention of Wall Street analysts. Those analysts are quick to heap praise on these types of companies, often to the point where it becomes unproductive. Dick's Sporting Goods generated strong growth over the past few years; in response, analysts lavished increasing price targets on the company. That game rarely ends well, and now it's claimed another victim.

Dick's posted 4% growth in adjusted earnings per share along with 1.5% growth in same-store sales, which measure sales at locations open at least one year. As you can see, there's nothing alarming about results like this. In fact, it's markedly better performance than Cabela's, which posted a 9% drop in first-quarter revenue.

The reason for this is that Cabela's is even more reliant on hunting and firearms than Dick's. Cabela's saw strong guns and ammunition sales in the first quarter of 2013, making for an extremely tough comparison period this time around.

Hunting was an area of weakness for Dick's too, but so was golf. The harsh winter weather clearly had a lot to do with this and will hurt the company's full-year results as well. Dick's management lowered its 2014 forecast in light of its first-quarter results. The company expects to earn $2.77 per share, at the midpoint of its guidance, down from previous expectations which called for $3.05 per share in earnings.

While this is undoubtedly a disappointment, Dick's guidance still represents growth over the previous year. Dick's earned $2.53 in diluted EPS last year; so assuming it hits its new forecast, it will still produce 9% earnings growth this year.

The reason for Dick's huge sell-off after earnings were reported probably had more to do with where the stock was trading leading up to the results. Dick's traded for 21 times trailing earnings prior to its huge decline, a lofty level for a retailer that meant the stock was nearly priced for perfection.

And, considering the tepid results seen from retailers more broadly so far this year, it's clear that retailers have been hurt by the unseasonably cold weather. After the sell-off, Dick's now holds a valuation that is much easier to swallow. The stock now exchanges hands for about 17 times trailing EPS, closer to the market multiple.

The Foolish takeaway
It's irrational to think people suddenly stopped golfing and hunting entirely. More likely is that the brutally cold winter weather that persisted well into March and April in many parts of the country simply postponed these traditional warm-weather activities.

Wall Street should have anticipated this and lowered its earnings estimates before Dick's Sporting Goods reported quarterly results. From a fundamental perspective, there's nothing wrong with Dick's business model. The company is still growing and is highly profitable.

The only things wrong with Dick's were its valuation and sky-high expectations embedded in its earnings multiples. With the huge earnings-related sell-off and harsh winter behind it, Dick's Sporting Goods looks like a good value opportunity based on its modest valuation and prospects for continued growth in 2014.

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  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 3:33 PM, glaswegian wrote:

    As the head of Augusta National lamented some time ago...young people are not taking up golf because a) It takes too much time, b) it is too difficult and c) it costs too much. This trend is not likely too change for the foreseeable future.

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