It was an interesting finish to the year for Foot Locker
We're all used to the typical one-time charges, taxes, or earnings from discontinued operations that can make numbers a bit fuzzy. Foot Locker took it a step further, as it has an extra week in the fourth quarter. If you don't think one week makes a big difference, just look at its results.
For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, Foot Locker earned $0.71 per share, up from $0.60 per share in fiscal 2005. What accounted for that $0.11 gain? That's right -- the additional week. That one week added $18 million, or $0.11 per share, to earnings. To further muddy the picture, there was also $0.02 per share added this year from discontinued operations, but a tax allowance added $0.04 per share to last year's results. So, essentially, fourth-quarter earnings were little changed from last year.
There won't be an extra week to work with during this year's first quarter, and Foot Locker said it expects earnings to be flat or down from a year ago. The retailer is projecting to earn between $0.34 and $0.37 per share. It earned $0.37 per share in last year's first quarter, and analysts were expecting that number to grow to $0.41 in 2007.
The annual estimates are no better. The company gave an estimated range of $1.55 to $1.65 per share, which surrounds the $1.60 it earned in 2006. Analysts were hoping to see that number grow to $1.74 per share; they will no doubt be disappointed to hear such news, but what about shareholders?
Despite the lack of growth, the company remains fairly confident and is working to reward its shareholders. Foot Locker continues to maintain a healthy cash balance that it has put to good use. Last year the company paid down $88 million in long-term debt, paid out dividends of $61 million, and repurchased $8 million in shares. It intends to continue that trend and is planning to institute a $300 million share repurchase program. Despite its generosity, I'd like to see the company figure out a way to improve results without the help of an extra week. Let's wait and see what Foot Locker has in store next time around.
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