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Why Finish Line Inc. Shares Jumped 11% in June

By Asit Sharma – Jul 11, 2016 at 8:05PM

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Investors in the athletic-apparel retailer found a good reason to push shares higher as the month drew to a close.

Image source: Finish Line Inc.

What: Shares of sneaker and sporting-apparel retailer Finish Line Inc. (FINL) climbed 11.36% in June, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence .

So what: The Indianapolis-based athletic-goods company reported modestly positive fiscal first-quarter 2017 earnings on June 24. Revenue increased 2.3%, to $454 million, and comparable-store sales for the Finish Line brand (i.e., excluding Macy's and JackRabbit stores) rose 1.5%. Earnings of $0.23 per diluted share represented a decline of $0.07 from the prior-year quarter.

While not groundbreaking, these results exceeded investor expectations enough to boost Finish Line stock by 22% during the trading session after earnings were released. This erased a sizable deficit and enabled shares to finish the month with a decent gain.

During the company's earnings conference call, management discussed plans to maintain performance for the rest of the fiscal year, including a continued focus on Finish Line's "mobile first" strategy. In Q1 2017, mobile traffic increased 21% versus the prior year and accounted for 62% of total digital traffic. Alongside this effort, Finish Line expanded its loyalty platform by 720,000 members, bringing its total active base to 10.5 million members. As more loyalty-program members place digital orders, the company gets closer to a long-term goal of becoming less reliant on physical locations.

Of course, brick-and-mortar stores are still the most significant portion of the retailer's business, and to this point CEO Sam Sato disclosed that Finish Line will add another 50 stores to its 88 Macy's department store locations. Finish Line is also refreshing its legacy footprint, which exists mostly within shopping malls. A refreshed concept is due out this month, and executives project that at least 50 to 60 stores will be remodeled this year.

Finish Line continues to close underperforming units as it adjusts physical locations to reach an optimally profitable level. Sato pointed out that the organization closed six stores in Q1 2017, after shuttering 54 stores last year. The corporate goal is to eventually trim 150 locations. Inclusive of stores within department stores and the company's JackRabbit collection of running-apparel shops, Finish Line ended the most recent quarter with 1,049 locations.

Now what: Alongside the positive earnings, the company reiterated its fiscal 2017 guidance, which calls for a comparable sales increase of between 3% and 5% and diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.50 to $1.56. But the path won't be completely smooth: Executives signaled a bit of margin pressure for the rest of the year, as the retailer right-sizes both its Jack Rabbit and Finish Line inventories. As a result, shareholders may want to check in on inventory levels when the company reports fiscal Q2 2017 earnings this fall.

Asit Sharma has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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