I can understand why Philip Wohl complained about the lack of online shopping at Big 5 Sporting Goods' (NASDAQ:BGFV) website when he wrote about the company back in August. It's jarringly absent, and there's nary even a mention of "coming soon" or some other kind of Web-based affinity or membership program -- but the company's share performance since its Summer 2002 IPO can't be denied: It has beaten the S&P 500 by a healthy margin.

Big 5 seems to be doing OK without online sales and their associated expenses. Last night the company announced preliminary financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 2: While hampered by warm weather to close the year (hurting sales in some winter sports categories), it appears there was solid growth. Full-year sales rose nearly 10% (7.8% if you use comparable 52-week periods), "comps" improved 3.5%, and net income jumped more than 37%.

A closer look at the company's operating strategy doesn't necessarily explain its lack of an online or even a catalog business, but its success does justify it somewhat. Big 5 prides itself on a measured approach to growth, experienced management, and a highly coordinated marketing and merchandising operation that allows it to make money on other companies' closeout goods. Its geographic focus in the Southwestern U.S. allows nearly all of its stock to funnel through one distribution center.

Big 5 may not be as, ahem, big as competitors Sports Authority (NYSE:TSA) and Dick's (NYSE:DKS), and it's certainly not on a par with mega-retailers like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT) and the many others that crowd its marketplace. It's easy to argue that the company is leaving potential sales and market-share sales on the table by eschewing electronic and other direct-to-consumer channels -- and it's probably true.

But management has found a formula that's working, nonetheless, and shareholders have voiced approval for the company's capital allocation with their dollars. All told, it seems likely that the company will do well should it ever decide to take the online plunge.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies mentioned.