PITTSBURGH-Dick’s Sporting Goods executives plan to open 40 new stores this year, significantly more than the 26 units the company opened in 2005. However, Dick’s management was also busy last year converting the 44 Galyan’s Trading Co. units they acquired in 2004 for $362 million to Dick’s stores.

Though Dick’s is speeding up its expansion, the company is not going to beef up its West Coast presence any time soon, said William Colombo, its president and chief operating officer, during the retailer’s quarterly conference call. “We don’t feel a rush to be coast to coast,” he says. The company’s 255 stores are in 34 states, mainly in the eastern half of the US.

Part of Dick’s expansion strategy is the opening of more two-level stores. Last year the company opened six of those units and six more are planned this year. Executives say they expect overall expansion to come from new store openings but did not rule out another acquisition.

Commenting on the recent purchase of competitor the Sports Authority by a group of private equity firms for $1.3 billion, Edward Stack, Dick’s chairman and chief executive officer, says it is too early to tell how it will impact his firm. “I think we need to wait and see what happens from the competitive standpoint going forward,” he says. “We like our position in the marketplace a lot.”

During the company’s fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 28, year-over-year same-store sales rose 4.1%, while net income leaped 25%, to %54 million. Sales for the quarter were up 8%, to $849.5 million.

Dick’s executives plan to invest more in the company’s apparel and footwear categories, Stack notes, mentioning that outdoors products are facing margin pressure from competitors like Gander Mountain. “We do see that there could be some pricing pressure on that side of the business,” he says.

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