Dick’s delivers early gift to shareholders

PITTSBURGH — Dick’s Sporting goods gave its shareholders a holiday surprise Tuesday morning when the company reported better-than-expected third-quarter results, increased its full-year guidance and declared its first ever dividend.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 29, increased 9.3% to $1.2 billion thanks largely to a 4.1% comp increase combined with the opening of 19 new stores. The 4.1% comps increase consisted of a 3.8% increase at Dick's Sporting Goods stores, a 2.4% increase at Golf Galaxy stores and a 16.8% increase in Dick’s e-commerce business. The sales momentum, which is somewhat surprising given the discretionary nature of the product categories Dick’s offers, resulted in improved profits. The company’s earnings per share surged 45% to 32 cents compared with 22 cents the prior year and well ahead of earlier guidance in the range of 24 cents to 26 cents.

“In the third quarter, we generated sales and earnings meaningfully above our expectations while increasing our margins and further strengthening our balance sheet,” said Ed Stack, Dick’s chairman and CEO.

The solid third-quarter performance also prompted the company to take a number of other actions, including elevating its full-year profit forecast and initiating an annual dividend of 50 cents. Full-year earnings per share are now expected in a range of $2.01 to $2.03 compared with prior guidance of $1.94 to $1.96. Dick’s is well positioned from a balance sheet perspective with $483 million in cash and equivalents and no outstanding borrowings.

“Our board's decision to initiate a dividend demonstrates its confidence in the company’s financial strength and growth potential,” Stack said. “Our solid cash position and cash flow outlook enable us to continue to invest in future profitable growth opportunities, while also returning cash to our shareholders through the dividend.”

Dick’s ended the quarter with a total of 474 Dick's Sporting Goods stores in 42 states and 81 Golf Galaxy stores in 30 states following the completion of a store development program that saw the addition of 36 Dick’s stores.