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Gart sees shortfall in latest earnings

Dow Jones and the Associated Press

DENVER ó Gart Sports Co., which has agreed to acquire The Sports Authority Inc., on Friday warned that results for its latest quarter would miss Wall Street estimates because of a large snowstorm in March and weaker-than-expected sales in April.

Gart of Englewood said it now expects earnings, excluding items, of 15 cents to 18 cents a share for the fiscal first quarter, ended May 3.

It cited the impact on its operations of a March snowstorm in the Rocky Mountain region, and of April sales that were not as robust as hoped despite the late arrival of Easter. Gart had first-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share a year ago.

In March, the company said it was comfortable with the estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call for first-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share.

Including the benefit of a tax gain, Gart said it expects first-quarter earnings of 31 cents to 34 cents a share.

Analysts expect earnings, excluding items, of 25 cents a share for the first quarter.

In February, Gart said it agreed to acquire Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Sports Authority in a stock deal valued at about $200 million.

The deal, expected to close in the second or third quarter, will create the nationís largest specialty sporting-goods chain.