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Big Lots 3Q profit more than doubles on store sale

Big Lots Inc. said Friday that its profit more than doubled in the fiscal third quarter, helped by the sale of a store, lower expenses and reduced inventory.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Big Lots Inc. said Friday that its profit more than doubled in the fiscal third quarter, helped by the sale of a store, lower expenses and reduced inventory.

The discount retailer also boosted its full-year earnings forecast, citing its quarterly performance and raised expectations for the fourth quarter.

Big Lots earned $30.3 million, or 37 cents per share, compared with $12.2 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Taking out 10 cents per share related to the sale of a California store, third-quarter profit was 27 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted 18 cents per share, on average. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Sales for the three months ended Oct. 31 rose 2 percent to $1.04 billion from $1.02 billion, surpassing Wall Street's sales estimate of $1.02 billion.

Sales at stores open at least two years dipped 0.2 percent in the quarter.

This figure is a key indicator of retailer performance since it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

Big Lots has tried to combat the pullback in consumer spending during the recession through cost control efforts and tight inventory management. The company trimmed inventory to $918 million from $958 million in the quarter and lowered its selling and administrative expenses to $365.2 million from $366.5 million.

Big Lots raised its full-year earnings from continuing operations guidance to a range of $2.15 to $2.20 per share from a previous range of $1.92 to $2.02 per share. It also lifted its fourth-quarter outlook to a range of $1.09 to $1.14 per share. The company's prior forecast was for a quarterly profit of 99 cents to $1.04 per share.

Analysts expect full-year earnings of $2.01 per share and a fourth-quarter profit of $1.04 per share.

Big Lots runs 1,368 stores in 47 states.