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Fitness financials: Hibbett Sports shares tumble after COO departure, plus Brunswick, Wal-Mart

Hibbett Sports shares tumbled after the departure of its COO, Brunswick appointed a new CFO, and Wal-Mart Stores' same-store sales rose 3 percent in August.

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Hibbett Sports shares tumble after COO departure

Hibbett Sports (Nasdaq: HIBB) shares fell as much as 11 percent on Sept. 4, a day after the company’s chief operating officer, Nissan Joseph, left the company over “philosophical differences” following a seven-month stay.

Shares tumbled $2.46, or 9.8 percent, to close at $22.69. They fell to a low of $22.32 earlier in the session.

Raymond James analyst Dan Wewer downgraded the retailer to “market perform” from “outperform,” telling clients he was disappointed with the departure of Nissan Joseph. The news of the departure is surprising, as the investment community believed Joseph was off to a successful start at Hibbett, Wewer wrote in a note to clients.

“The company’s performance began to improve soon after his arrival. Investors prefer to see management continuity in well-run retailers. This announcement will raise concerns regarding the management succession plan for Hibbett,” the analyst wrote. “We have reason to believe that CEO Mickey Newsome was uncomfortable with the pace of new initiatives that Joseph wanted to implement.”

Joseph desired to speed up the rate of reinvestment in the company while Newsome is reluctant to pursue investments that do not result in immediate returns, the analyst added.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst David Magee wrote in a client note that he expected some volatility to follow Joseph’s sudden departure. He said he was impressed by Joseph, though he may have been pushing too quickly for change. But he expects the company to improve in the long term.

Oppenheimer analyst Vivian Ma added in a note to investors, “While this does leave HIBB without an important executive going into the holiday season, we do not believe this is a major disaster for the company.”

Brunswick appoints new CFO

Brunswick Corp. (NYSE: BC) said Peter B. Hamilton has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer, effective Sept. 15. He replaces Peter G. Leemputte, who resigned to take a position with another company.

Hamilton, 61, served as Brunswick’s chief financial officer from 1995 to 2000 before moving into operations. He was president – Brunswick Bowling & Billiards from 2000 to 2005; president – Life Fitness Division from 2005 to 2006; and president – Brunswick Boat Group from 2006 to 2007. He also served as vice chairman of the board of Brunswick from 2000 until his retirement in 2007.

Leemputte will be joining Mead Johnson Nutritionals as its senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Brunswick is the parent of the Life Fitness, Hammer Strength and Parabody fitness equipment brands.

Wal-Mart Stores same-store sales rise 3 percent in August

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) reported a 3-percent rise in its August same-store sales, beating expectations.

Sales in stores open at least one year rose 2.8 percent at Wal-Mart Stores and 4.2 percent at Sam’s Club for the four weeks ended Aug. 29. Analysts had predicted a 1.6-percent rise. Including fuel, total same-store sales rose 3.5 percent.

Total company sales rose 9 percent to $30.67 billion in the four-week period.

Wal-Mart said it expects September same-store sales to rise 2 percent to 3 percent.

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