Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. said its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 42 percent amid a slowdown in consumer spending. While the results beat Wall Street forecasts, the company said the current quarter likely wouldn't meet analysts' expectations.

After Thursday's market close, the El Segundo retailer reported net income of $3.6 million (17 cents per share), compared with net income of $6.2 million (28 cents) a year ago. Net sales fell 5 percent to $219 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected profits of 14 cents per share on revenue of more than $220 million.

For the fiscal year, the company reported net income fell 50 percent to $13.9 million (64 cents) as net revenue fell 4 percent to $865 million.

"In an increasingly difficult economic environment, we are pleased to report fourth quarter and full year earnings at the upper end of the guidance that we issued last November," Chief Executive Steven G. Miller said in a statement. "We believe these results reflect our operating discipline and ability to provide consumers with compelling values on quality products without significantly compromising our merchandise margins."

As an example, the company noted that while it added 18 stores during 2008, it was able to reduced its full-time company-wide headcount by 9 percent.

Big 5 said it expects to report earnings of 1 cent to 7 cents per share in the first quarter, with same-store sales falling in the high single-digit percentage range. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 10 cents per share.

Big 5 shares were down 2 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $5.41 in Friday morning trading on the Nasdaq.

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