Sector Snap: Analyst says sporting goods strong

NEW YORK -- Recent product, weather and sales trends are helping sporting goods retail stores, an analyst said Tuesday, and should benefit their third-quarter results.

Sporting goods stores were hurt during the recession as Americans held back on buying expensive items like golf clubs and skiing gear. But in a note to investors on Tuesday Stifel Nicolaus analyst David A. Schick said several current trends are supporting stores like Dick's Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports Inc. and Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp.

Trends in lightweight footwear, an emphasis on color and higher-priced technical gear all stand to boost sports retailers' results.

Last year those companies were dealing with unseasonably warm weather. Forecasts point to more typical winter weather this year that should help year-over-year comparisons.

A strong back-to-school season should help results as well, Schick said, along with increasing consumer acceptance of "healthy living" and "a return to the outdoors."

He raised his third-quarter earnings estimate on Dick's Sporting Goods by 2 cents to 38 cents per share. Analysts expect 37 cents per share, according to FactSet. Dick's shares rose 38 cents to $50.88 in afternoon trading.

Schick increased his estimate on Hibbett Sports by 2 cents to 69 cents per share, while analysts expect 68 cents per share. That stock rose 55 cents to $58.29.

The analyst kept his third-quarter net income estimate on Big 5 Sporting Goods at 31 cents per share. Analysts expect 32 cents per share. Big 5 slipped 3 cents to $9.08.