Shares of Big 5 Sports (BGFV 0.16%), a sporting goods retailer predominantly focused on the western U.S., rose as much as 12% on March 2. The news driving the gain was the company's fourth-quarter 2021 earnings release, which hit the market after the close on March 1. It was mostly good reading, but you need to dig into the numbers just a little.
Fourth-quarter 2021 sales at Big 5 Sports tallied up to $273.4 million, with a 0.2% same-store sales increase over the fourth quarter of 2020. That said, 2020 included an extra week, so the total tally in the fourth quarter of 2021 was lower than in 2020, but it isn't really representative of the company's performance because of the extra week.
Notably, sales in the quarter were 10.9% higher than the same stanza of 2019, showing that Big 5 Sports has handily weathered the pandemic. For the full year, 2021 sales hit a record $1.16 billion versus $1.04 billion in 2020, which was the 53-week year. Same-store sales in 2021 were higher by 13.9% compared to 2020. That's a pretty good top-line update.
Earnings totaled $0.89 per share in the fourth quarter of 2021, above the company's guidance range and the consensus analyst estimate of $0.85 per share. Investors tend to like it when companies beat Wall Street's call, let alone the company's own expectations. And while the earnings figure was below the $0.95 per share earned in 2020, that year's fourth quarter benefited from an extra $0.12 per share because of the extra week noted above. Full-year 2021 earnings were $4.55 per share, also a record, compared to $2.58 per share in 2020. Again, basically good news all around.
Looking out to 2022, the company's guidance was a bit restrained, citing difficult comparisons relative to its record-setting 2021 results, supply chain issues, weather-related headwinds, and uncertainty around the coronavirus. That said, management made a point to explain that, " ... we believe we are positioned to deliver first quarter earnings near or above any pre-pandemic first quarter earnings in our history." That's a fairly reassuring commentary and helps explain why investors decided to take a glass half-full view of things. Of course a large stock rally didn't hurt the mood any, but all in, Big 5 Sports did report decent numbers and investors rewarded it for that.