* Q4 EPS $0.40 vs est $0.31 * Q4 sales up 13 pct, beats market view * Sees FY11 EPS $1.12-$1.30 vs est $1.18 * Sees accelaration of positive sales trends in Q1 (Recasts; adds details, analysts' comments)
By Viraj Nair
BANGALORE, March 12 (Reuters) - Hibbett Sports Inc (HIBB.O) reported quarterly results that sailed past Wall Street estimates and saw accelerating sales trends into the first-quarter from the championship victories by football teams in its key markets.
A first-ever Super Bowl win for the New Orleans Saints and the triumph of national college champions Alabama Crimson Tide have been driving strong demand for licensed products at the Birmingham, Alabama-based sporting goods retailer.
Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Chris Svezia said it will be interesting to see how much more upside the company can get from the football victories, adding that people had been looking for a narrower fiscal 2011 profit outlook range.
For fiscal 2011, Hibbett projected earnings in the range of $1.12 to $1.30 a share. Same-store sales are expected to be up 1 percent to 4 percent.
Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn $1.18, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"They're probably being a little conservative as they look at the second half of this year and what they might be up against," analyst Svezia said.
Stephens Inc analyst Rick Nelson said Hibbett's same-store sales outlook seems cautious given the positive trends and expects the company to be closer to the upper end of its profit range.
Hibbett also benefited from surprisingly chilly weather in the South as cold-weather gear and outerwear sales picked up in the fourth quarter.
"I think the weather is (still) helping," Svezia said.
For the fourth quarter, Hibbett earned $11.8 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $7.6 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago.
Analysts were expecting a profit of 31 cents a share.
Sales rose 13 percent to $166.8 million, surpassing market estimates of $155.1 million. Same-store sales rose 9.6 percent.
Shares of the retailer closed at $24.71 Thursday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Viraj Nair; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal, Unnikrishnan Nair)