Big Lots quarterly profit triples; provides upbeat outlook

Marianne Wilson
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Big Lots Inc. reported first-quarter profit that was well above analysts’ estimates as the COVD-19 pandemic drove a big increase in same-store sales. 

The discounter’s net income for the quarter rose to $49.3 million, or $1.26 a share, in the quarter ended May 2, from $15.5 million, or $0.39 a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected earnings per share of $0.40.

Sales rose 11.1% to $1.44 billion, above estimates of $1.32 billion. Same-store sales rose 10.3%. 

The company said second-quarter same-store sales to date "are up strongly," in line with the acceleration in the business that started in mid-April. But the retailer expects comp trends to moderate over the rest of the quarter due to competitors and other retailers reopening, the planned cancellation of a July sales event, potential inventory constraints in certain categories, and the end of stimulus-driven demand.

"Looking forward, we are off to a strong start in the second quarter, and believe we are well-positioned to navigate through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, with strong alignment between our assortment and current customer demand,” stated Bruce Thorn, president and CEO of Big Lots. “Equally, we are very focused on ensuring sustainable improvements in our business beyond the crisis.”

The company expects second-quarter earnings per share of $0.65 to $0.80 compared with estimates of $0.24.