Like a deer in hunting season, The Sportsman's Guide (NASDAQ:SGDE) took some fire Wednesday. Of course, one day of trading action rarely tells the tale with any company, so let's dig a little deeper.

Because this company usually preannounces results, there are typically few surprises in its earnings releases' actual numbers. For the fourth quarter, sales were up 4.5% as reported, in line with guidance, and up about 10% if you correct for an extra week in the year-ago period. Profit growth was a bit better: Operating income climbed more than 16%, and net income rose more than 21%.

Management compensation is a hot-button issue at Sportsman's Guide, and this quarter won't change that. The company would have reported an extra $0.08 per share in earnings this quarter (and $0.20 for the full year) were it not for the impact of in-the-money exercisable options. Now, I'm all for giving management its due -- and its money -- when it performs well, but the executives already take home a nice wad of cash with their salaries. I'm not too thrilled to see them getting a pile of options as well.

Still, there are things to like about this company. Since the company operates as a catalog and Internet retailer, capital expenditures are minimal. Sportsman's Guide produced slightly more than $12 million in free cash flow this year, nearly doubling the year-ago level. The company also generates a roughly 27% return on its invested capital base, if my back-of-the-envelope calculation is right.

Numbers like that make me feel a little better about Sportsman's Guide's competitive position, especially in such a crowded market. Let's face it: Everyone from Cabela's (NYSE:CAB) to Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) to Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) could be considered competition to some extent.

The stock looks somewhat like a bargain, but prospective investors will have to accept management's seemingly outsized hand in the cookie jar. I guess I'm also a little torn on this business's ultimate prospects. Though I recognize the healthy market for outdoor gear, clothing, and sporting goods, the low-priced end of this particular market can be a tough place to play.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).