We'll be good sports about it and acknowledge that Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) made good on its earnings guidance, though it came in at the low end. The bright spot was that April -- which proved to be a bear of a month for many retailers -- didn't hurt things so badly that it still couldn't increase same-store sales, something many rivals might look at wistfully.

Hibbett's strategy of locating its sporting goods stores in strip malls, usually anchored by a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), has been good for it. Over the past decade, sales have grown at an average rate of nearly 20% a year. Profits have compounded at a greater than 36% rate. Lately, though, the company has been hitting some rough patches, perhaps because Wal-Mart has been experiencing difficulties.

Although sales missed expectations for the first quarter, coming in at $133.8 million -- up 5.5% over last year but about $2 million below forecasts -- Hibbett was still able to join those competitors reporting higher same-store sales, even if they barely budged upward. As expected, the shift in the year-over-year comparisons caused by the extra selling week in last year's fiscal calendar meant that sales that would normally occur in the first quarter instead boosted the fourth quarter's numbers.

Going into April, the retailer was ahead of its earnings guidance. While most of its stores are in the Sun Belt and the Southeast, thus shielding it from fickle weather, undoubtedly its mid-Atlantic stores felt the cold snap pretty hard. Profits ended up coming in at $0.32 per share, in line with its reduced guidance, albeit it at the low end.

Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV) and Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) were competitors whose comps were just ahead of last year for the quarter, while comps for Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation Cabela's (NYSE:CAB) dropped 1%.

Hibbett's is feeling the heat of a crowded field. While K2 (NYSE:KTO) had done its best to roil the industry before agreeing to be acquired, major players like Dick's and privately held Sports Authority, not to mention Wal-Mart itself, keep the pressure on. As a regional player, Hibbett could also end up missing out on some trends that crop up elsewhere.

On just about every measure, Hibbett is an expensive stock. The company is  debt-free and produces prodigious free cash flow, and there's still a wide field for expansion. There may come a time when it sports a better discount for investors who still want to play ball.

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Cabela's is a recommendation of Hidden Gems and Wal-Mart is a recommendation of Motley Fool Inside Value. A 30-day free trial to either service gives you better than a sporting chance to beat the market.

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