Big Lots Earnings Jump 37%

Big Lots (BIG) on Tuesday reported second-quarterearnings that rose 37%, helped by lower markdowns, and beat Wall Street estimates. The retailer also raised 2010 earnings for the second time.

The closeout retailer, which sells everything from furniture to clothes at a discount, said that for its fiscal second quarter that ended July 31, net profit rose to $38.9 million, or 48 cents a share, from $28.4 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts estimated earnings of 47 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue grew 5.1% from $1.09 billion to $1.14 billion, matching analyst estimates. Comparable store sales were up 3.8%. Big Lots also said its gross margin improved by half a percentage point, helped by lower markdowns and a favorable merchandise mix impact, which more than offset rising freight costs.

Big Lots said it now expects fiscal 2010 comparable store sales in the range of 3.5% to 4.5%. This translates into expected income from continuing operations of between $2.82 and $2.90 a share for the fiscal year, compared to its previous guidance of $2.75 to $2.85 a share. Analysts had been forecasting annual earnings of $2.85 a share.

Big Lots' shares rose nearly 38% over the past year, and 9.5% year-to-date, beating the broad market index.
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