MARCH 11, 2004 -- Net Q4 sales of Hibbett Sporting Goods increased 20.8% to $91.2 million. Comp-store sales increased 8.3% in Q4. Net income increased 41.3% to $6.5 million compared. EPS increased 36.7% to $0.41 from $0.30 in the prior year. Excluding earnings of $0.02 per diluted share attributable to the sale of a leasehold interest in the prior-year period, Hibbett's EPS were $0.28 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003.
Net FY sales increased 15.0% to $321.0 million. Comp-store sales increased 5.3% in FY 2004. Net income increased 38.1% to $20.3 million compared. EPS increased 34.4% to $1.29 from $0.96 in the prior year. Excluding earnings of $0.02 per diluted share attributable to the favorable lease disposition, Hibbett's earnings were $0.94 per diluted share for the 2003 fiscal year.
Hibbett opened 24 new stores during the fourth quarter. For the year, the company opened 65 stores and closed eight, bringing the store base to 428 stores. Hibbett expects to open approximately 65 new stores, net of store closings, in fiscal 2005.
Mickey Newsome, CEO, stated, "We are pleased to see all three of our merchandise categories performing well and establishing good momentum heading into the first quarter. The record sales we achieved during the fourth quarter led to another record for operating margins. For the first time as a public company our quarterly operating margin exceeded 11%, a 150-basis point improvement over the prior year. The full year margin reached 9.95%, its highest level ever. Consistent with a trend we have cited throughout much of the year, we again sold more merchandise at full price and relied less on clearance resulting in a year-over-year improvement in product margin. Leveraging occupancy costs and warehouse efficiencies generated the balance of the improvement as we were able to more than offset the one-time gain from lease dispositions a year ago."
Hibbett also announced that its board approved a three-for-two stock split. The stock split will be effected in the form of a 50% stock dividend, and the new shares will be distributed on or about April 16, 2004, to stockholders of record on April 1, 2004. Following the effective date of the split, the company will have approximately 23,300,000 shares of common stock outstanding, 1,324,702 shares which may be issued upon the exercise of outstanding options and 810,149 which may be issued upon the exercise of options which may be granted in the future under the company's stock option plans or issued in the future under the Company's stock purchase plan.
The company issued guidance for the year ending January 29, 2005, of EPS of approximately $1.52 to $1.56 and a comp-store sales increase in the range of 4%-5%. For Q1, the Hibbett's expects to report EPS of approximately $0.45-$0.47 and a comp-store sales increase in the range of 5%-6%.
Newsome added, "Our guidance for fiscal 2005 projects an earnings increase of approximately 20% for the year. Given the strong results in the second half of fiscal 2004, we believe it is prudent to expect at this point in time that second half comparable sales results will be closer to our historical range of 3% to 4%. We have considerable sales momentum to start the year, and we expect to provide a better view of the second half as the year progresses."