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How Far Is Dick's Sporting Goods From Its Goals?

By Motley Fool Staff – Updated Apr 13, 2019 at 12:41PM

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The niche retailer didn't run up the score in its fourth quarter.

In the retail world's ongoing transformation into an omnichannel business, some niche players are adapting. Some, though, are getting lapped. For example, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS 8.15%), which reported Tuesday on a fourth quarter that featured falling profits, falling comps, falling revenue, and other unfortunate trends. Even after factoring out the 53rd week in fiscal 2017 that made direct comparisons look worse, this was not a winner of a quarter.

In this segment of the MarketFoolery podcast, host Mac Greer and senior analysts Ron Gross and Andy Cross consider the rough results; discuss the few bright spots; reflect on the company's latest modest, but principled, move to sell fewer firearms; weigh the past underperformance of the stock; and speculate about its outlook.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on March 12, 2019.

Mac Greer: Let's move on to Dick's Sporting Goods. Shares down Tuesday on earnings. Down big. Ron, falling profits, falling sales, falling same-store sales. That doesn't sound great.

Ron Gross: Not a great quarter, Mac, I think you nailed it! I'll do a little bit of adjusting here because there was a 53rd week in fiscal 2017. So, to be fair, we'll adjust for that. Even when you do, still not a great quarter. Same-store sales down 2.2%. Net sales down 6.5%.

One bright spot, I think we can say, e-commerce sales were up 17%, now accounts for 23% of total sales versus 19% in the fourth quarter of 2017. Making some headway online.

Guidance was somewhat tepid. Interestingly, they did raise their dividend 22%. At that rate, you get a dividend yield of about 3.1%. So, for those looking for a yield, not too shabby. Of course, you always have to be concerned about total return. If you're getting 3% yield but the stock's going down, it's not really something you should be all too excited about. We have to keep an eye on the business. They did buy some stock back over the course of the year at reasonable prices, I think. They've got to turn this ship a bit, though. Not a great quarter.

Greer: Ron, last year after the Parkland shooting, Dick's announced they were going to stop selling firearms to buyers under the age of 21. They also pulled all of their assault-style rifles. Today, they came out and announced that they're going to be removing guns from 125 stores. We don't know which stores, they didn't specify that, but they said in markets where the hunting category underperforms.

Gross: Yeah. They did see some weakness when they did it back after Parkland. I guess that makes sense. The revenue in some markets did go down. I will anticipate that this will have an additional effect, causing revenue to go down, even though they're strategically closing in underperforming markets where that category may have not been so robust. But you'll probably see additional dips. But, you know what? They're making a moral, a political, an ethical, I don't know what word you want to use --

Greer: Principled?

Gross: Principled stance. More power to them. Depending on your politics, you're either happy or you're not. But I applaud them for making a decision. They still have a way to go if they're going to roll this out across the board, because there's more than 700 Dick's Sporting Goods stores and this is only 125. But, baby steps, perhaps.

Greer: Looking out over the last five years, shares down big. They've lost to the market. What do you think about the next five years, Ron?

Gross: The stock looks cheap at 11 times earnings and the 3.1% dividend yield, but I just get worried here. You might make some money in the stock over the long term. I don't think it would be a market-beater, though.

Greer: Andy, when you think of Dick's Sporting Goods, is it Amazon-proof?

Andy Cross: No, it's not. Their inventories grew 67% this past quarter, and with revenues falling, that's a tough sign for retailers. We saw some of the struggles they have with some of the larger brands, especially in the athletic goods over the years. That's going to be a tough spot. I applaud them for the initiatives they're making, but overall, I think Dick's will probably be less relevant over the next five to 10 years than it is today.

Greer: And that's the way the ball bounces.

[crickets chirping]

Guys, that is genius! You didn't like that?

Cross: [laughs] No, I did not like that.

Gross: "Genius" might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Greer: [laughs] I'm kidding!

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Dick's Sporting Goods.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Andy Cross has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Mac Greer owns shares of GOOG. Ron Gross owns shares of GOOG and MSFT. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GOOGL, GOOG, and SFIX. The Motley Fool owns shares of MSFT. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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