Cabela’s, the big US outdoor retail chain, reported a drop in net income of 27 percent to $9.7 million for the period ended Sept. 27. Operating income was down by 14 percent to $20.8 million. Total revenues were up by nearly 12 percent to $611.8 million. By segment, the retail operating income rose by 12 percent to $30.1 million on almost 28 percent higher revenue at $328 million. Comparable-store sales declined by 9 percent on reduced traffic and a flat average ticket.

Cabela’s customers tended to focus on value merchandise in this quarter. Camping and hunting were described as strong categories, and softgoods were picking up. The direct business had an 18 percent slip in operating income to $33.5 million on essentially flat sales of $241.2 million.

Meanwhile, the financial service arm produced a 25 percent gain in quarterly operating income to nearly $12 million despite a 6 percent decline in revenues to $41.9 million. Average credit balance rose by 6.5 percent as charge-offs for bad debt increased to 2.91 percent from 2.67 percent in the year-ago period.

During the third quarter, Cabela’s opened its first next-generation store, 7,400 square meters in Rapid City, South Dakota. The next one will open in Montana in 2009. The only other scheduled 2009 opening is 13,400 square meters in New Jersey in the fourth quarter of that year.

Whileit continues to manage its cash flow, debt and inventory levels aggressively, Cabela’s has decreased its outlook for the fiscal year. Annual revenues are now forecast to grow high single digits versus a prior expectation of low to mid-teens. Earnings per share are now seen as declining in the low to mid-teen range against a prior forecast of mid-single-digit expansion. Annual same-store sales are now forecast as dropping 7-10 percent versus the prior estimate of a 5-7 percent decline. Cabela’s says it intends to more aggressively manage inventory levels by season, adjusting prices when market conditions change. Inventory for the year is forecast to be down slightly compared with the previous year.