Finish Line sees lower Q1 earnings; shares fall

Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:27am EDT

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(Reuters) - Footwear retailer Finish Line Inc (FINL.O) forecast a plunge in first-quarter earnings as a shift in promotions and higher occupancy costs hurt margins, sending its shares down 8 percent.

The company, which sells brands from companies such as Nike Inc (NKE.N), Puma (PUMG.DE) and Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE), sees a decline of 30 percent in first-quarter earnings, implying a profit of 21 cents a share. Analysts had expected the company to earn 36 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Separately, Finish Line said Gart Capital Partners will invest $10 million in its Running Specialty Group to create the largest operator of specialty running shoe business in the United States.

The joint venture, which will be majority owned by Finish Line, follows the company's 2011 acquisition of an 18-store chain of specialty running shoe shops operating under The Running Company banner.

For the fourth quarter ended March 3, Finish Line posted earnings of $41.9 million, or 80 cents a share, compared with $34.2 million, or 63 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Before items, earnings were 81 cents, in line with estimates.

Sales increased 18.6 percent to $456.3 million, beating estimates of $432.6 million.

Shares of the company, whose larger rivals include Foot Locker Inc (FL.N), were down 8 percent in trading before the bell on Friday. They had closed at $25.34 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Juhi Arora in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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