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Instant Analysis: Finish Line Reports Q3 Loss, Will Shutter Stores, Replace CEO... and Hike Dividend

By Eric Volkman - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:04AM

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Recent developments at the company are not encouraging.

What happened?
What didn't happen to sports apparel retailer Finish Line (FINL) on Thursday? The company released its fiscal Q3 2016 results -- which revealed a deep net loss -- said it would install a new CEO and announced it would shutter a raft of stores. Oh, and it also declared a fresh quarterly dividend that is $0.01, or 10%, higher than its predecessor at $0.10 per share.

For the quarter, consolidated net sales dropped by 3.5% on a year-over-year basis to $382 million. Meanwhile, the company plunged into the red with a loss of nearly $22 million ($0.49 per diluted share), against a net profit of almost $3 million ($0.05) in Q3 2015.

Going forward, Finish Line said that over the next four years it will close up to 150 stores, or around one-quarter of its total. CEO Glenn Lyon is to step down from his position effective Feb. 28, to be replaced by its current president, Sam Sato. Finally, the new dividend will be paid on March 14 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 26; the raise is the latest in a series of $0.01 increases, which the company typically declares at the beginning of calendar years.

Does it matter?
All in all, this is a distressing set of headlines for Finish Line, and it clearly indicates deep trouble at the company.

It placed blame for the poor fundamentals on "a disruption in our supply chain following the implementation of our new warehouse and order management system." This negatively affected both in-store and online sales.

Getting past the problem isn't going to be easy or painless. For the entirety of fiscal 2016 -- which includes this current Q4 -- the company anticipates that per-share earnings will land between $1.18 and $1.23. This is significantly below analyst projections of $1.74.

Perhaps the change in CEO, the reduction in store count, the fixing of the new warehouse/order management system, this year's bump in the dividend, or a combination of several of these developments will restore profitability and stop the stock price from sliding (it's down by 30% over the past year). Finish Line has been profitable, if not exceptionally so, in the past, so I'm sure it's got the ability to recover. But I think there is a lot to worry about with this company, and too much uncertainty, to take a gamble on the stock just now.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned and neither does The Motley Fool. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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