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Big Lots holds steady; store of the future coming


Big Lots on Friday posted an unexpected decline in total revenue in its fourth quarter as a reduced store count cut into its sales. But the chain’s earnings topped the Street.

The close-out retailer also boosted its dividend and initiated a new share buyback program.

Big Lots reported net income of $90.1 million, or $1.99 a share, for the quarter, down from $94.5 million, or $1.91 a share, last year. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $2.26, above the estimates.

Revenue fell 0.3% to $1.58 billion, just missing estimates. Same-sales rose 0.3%, the company’s 12th consecutive quarter of flat or positive comparable store sales.

On the chain’s quarterly earnings call, CEO and president David Campisi said Big Lots will test its store of the future in two markets this year.

“We’re looking for a fresh perspective,” he said. “We want a fun, engaging shopping experience.”

For the full year, Big Lots reported sales of $5.2 billion, up from $5.19 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales were up 0.9%.

“I'm pleased to report a solid fourth quarter in what was a very difficult retail environment,” said Campisi. “Throughout 2016, we were able to drive improved consistency in our business resulting in operating profit and EPS results meaningfully above our original plans and last year.”

Big Lots is increasing its quarterly dividend payment rate by approximately 19%, declaring a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per common share for the first quarter of fiscal 2017.
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