Academy Sports Shares Dip Despite Sales Turnaround in Q4

Shares for Academy Sports + Outdoors dipped nearly 8 percent in Thursday morning trading after the company issued soft guidance for the year following a miss in net sales for fiscal 2023.

For the full year, net sales at the Katy, Texas-based retailer fell 3.7 percent to $6.16 billion, down from $6.40 billion in 2022. Net income for fiscal 2023 was $519.2 million, down 17.3 percent from $628 million the year prior.

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In the fourth quarter, however, Academy made some gains with net sales in the period up 2.8 percent to $1.79 billion, up from $1.75 billion in Q4 2022. Net income in the quarter was $168.2 million, up 6.7 percent from $157.7 million the same time last year.

Academy said that it opened seven new stores during the fourth quarter for a total of 14 stores in 2023. In 2024, the company plans on opening 15 to 17 new stores.

“I am proud of the progress we have made and the resiliency that the team has shown, as we have navigated through many challenges over the past year,” Steve Lawrence, chief executive officer of Academy Sports + Outdoors, said in a statement. “We have been working through a choppy macro-economic backdrop while putting in place the building blocks for our future.”

Carl Ford, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Academy Sports + Outdoors, added in a statement on Thursday that the company did not meet its sales expectations in 2023, but said that he is pleased with the trajectory change in the fourth quarter. For the third consecutive year, the company achieved double digit operating margins and a gross margin rate above 34 percent, underscoring the structural changes Academy has made to improve margins, the CFO said.

“In 2024, we are focused on our long-range strategy of growing the company by opening new stores, growing omnichannel sales, customer data acquisition and utilization, and improving our supply chain,” Ford said. “Utilizing our strong balance sheet, we will invest in each of these strategic areas while we navigate the current consumer landscape because we believe that these initiatives will drive our long-term success.”

Looking ahead, the company said it looked at a variety of factors such as expected benefits of its growth initiatives, current consumer demand, the competitive environment as well as the potential impacts from inflation and other economic risks in order to determine next year’s guidance.

For fiscal 2024, Academy expects net sales between $6.07 billion and $6.35 billion, which ranges from a 1.5 percent loss to a 3 percent gain for the year. Diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2024 are expected to be between $5.90 and $6.90.

“As we move into 2024 and beyond, we remain optimistic about our long-term growth potential,” Lawrence added. “We are the value leader in our space, and we believe this positions us well to serve the active young families who are our core customers. Customers have shown a deep affinity for our brand, and we remain confident that our model is both scalable and transportable.”

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