Regional sporting goods company Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) will report first-quarter 2008 financial results on Thursday, May 24.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Hibbett added another analyst covering it, and he joined the six who rate it a hold. The other 12 still say it's a buy.
  • Revenue. Sales are expected to grow 7% for the quarter, to $136 million.
  • Earnings. Profits, however, are expected to drop a penny from last year to $0.34 per share.

What management says:
After a pretty good year last year, Hibbett would rather you ignored the first quarter of this fiscal year. Or at least look at it in context of the first half-year. With its prior fiscal year having an extra week in it, the first quarter will have one less week to sell merchandise. Also, some stock-based compensation costs moved from the fourth quarter into the first. That strips about $0.05 per share from its earnings estimates, which were still just shy of analyst expectations. Analysts have since scaled back their projections to dovetail more closely with management's guidance of $0.32 to $0.35 per share.

What management does:
It looks like there are diverse results for the sporting goods category with retailers reporting sales down in general, while certain individual retailers are reporting growth. Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV) reported same-store sales inching up, as did Target (NYSE:TGT) and Costco (NASDAQ:COST), but Cabela's (NYSE:CAB) reported about a 1% drop. Hibbett, though, has been expecting a 1% to 3% drop in comps this quarter, though for the year it anticipates an overall increase.

























All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Hibbett has been a steady performer churning out regular profitability that has seemingly hit a soft patch. Investors didn't like the sporting goods company's reining in of expectations last quarter and sent its stock down about 8% as a result. It hasn't quite recovered yet. That doesn't mean that Hibbett is cheap just yet. The retailer trades at multiples that are at the high end of its rivals' range, and although Hibbett may be somewhat insulated from the weather patterns that played havoc with some competitors' results, its limited geographical footprint inhibits greater growth.

However, Hibbett is debt-free and generates prodigious amounts of free cash flow. With K2 (NYSE:KTO) recently joining in the sporting goods consolidation party -- after having fostered a good portion of it itself -- Hibbett could always make for an interesting target.

Related Foolishness:

Hibbett Sports has earned a three-star rating from Motley Fool CAPS, the new investor intelligence community. You can add your voice to the stock rating service by joining today. It's free!

Costco is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Cabela's is a recommendation of Motley Fool Hidden Gems. Regardless of your investing style, the Fool has an investment newsletter to give you a sporting chance in the market. Try one for 30 days risk free!

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.