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Hibbett Jumps as Weather Gods Smile on Sportswear: Atlanta Mover

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Hibbett Sports Inc., a chain of sporting goods stores dotting much of the Southeast, rose the most since Nov. 28 as unseasonably warm winter weather sparked more outside activity and spring shopping.

Hibbett closed at $50.96, up 4.1 percent in Nasdaq trading, after earlier rising as much as 5.7 percent. The shares have gained 13 percent this year, pushing the Birmingham, Alabama-based retailer to the highest price since its 1996 public offering. The company reports fourth quarter earnings March 9.

Sales a year ago were less than analysts expected after cold, rainy weather kept some customers at home, Christopher Svezia, senior analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group LLC in New York, said today in a telephone interview. Milder temperatures in the South may have boosted demand for athletic shoes and gear, he said.

“Between the potential for upside in the fourth quarter and strength in the industry, Hibbett is hitting their stride,” Svezia said.

Warm weather boosted several U.S. retailers including Gap Inc. and Target Inc., which both reported February same-store sales gains that topped analysts’ estimates. Sales at Gap, the largest U.S. apparel chain, climbed 4 percent, beating the average projection for a 1.4 percent drop from analysts surveyed by Retail Metrics Inc. Target, the second-largest U.S. discount retailer, posted a 7 percent same-store sales gain, topping the 5 percent estimate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Duane D. Stanford in Atlanta at dstanford2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anita Sharpe at asharpe6@bloomberg.net

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