Finish Line Shares Fall as Executives Report Slower Sales Gains

Finish Line Inc. shares fell after executives reported that sales gains had slowed this month, prompting concern that momentum from last quarter is fading.

Chief Financial Officer Ed Wilhelm said on a conference call that comparable-store sales so far in September have risen at a low-single-digit percentage rate. That follows an increase of 5.1 percent in the company’s fiscal second quarter, which ended Aug. 27.

The month-to-date performance “was weaker than people expected,” said Susan Anderson, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co. Still, Anderson noted that the company posted strong comparable sales a year earlier -- a 4.5 percent increase -- making for a tough comparison.

The shares tumbled as much as 7 percent to $22.30 in New York trading. Indianapolis-based Finish Line had gained 33 percent this year through Thursday.

The stock had gained in premarket trading after second-quarter sales topped analysts’ estimates. Revenue increased 5.4 percent to $509.4 million, beating analysts’ $494.7 million average projection. Profit of 53 cents a share, excluding some items, matched estimates.

Chief Executive Officer Sam Sato cited retro running and basketball shoes, along with exposure from the Olympics, for boosting sales.

“It was a good quarter,” Anderson said. “I think they’ll continue to accelerate performance as we go into the back half of the year.”

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