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Big Lots (BIG) Posts 3Q Loss, Sales Flat; Updates Forecast

 December 04, 2012 06:58 AM

(By Balachander) Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) reported a quarterly loss amid flat sales and contraction of margins and the North America's broadline closeout retailer updated its forecast for the full year.

For the third quarter ended Oct. 27, adjusted loss from continuing operations was $6.0 million or $0.10 per share, compared with income from continuing operations of $4.2 million or $0.06 per share in the comparable period of last year.

Net sales were nearly unchanged at $1.13 billion.

Wall Street analysts, on average, expected BIG to lose $0.24 per share on sales of $1.14 billion.

Net sales for U.S. operations fell 1.9 percent. Comparable store sales for U.S. stores open at least fifteen months declined 4.6 percent for the three month period.

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Gross margin shrank to 38.1 percent from 39.0 percent.

Looking ahead for the fourth quarter, Big Lots forecasts income per share from continuing operations between $1.91 and $2.10 and U.S. sales growth in the range of 3 percent to 7 percent. The outlook assumes U.S. comparable store sales decline in the range of low to mid single digits.  Analysts expect EPS of $2.02 on total sales of $1.79 billion.

For the full year, the company now expects adjusted EPS from continuing operations in the range of $2.86 to $3.05 from prior expectations of $2.80 to $2.95, while analysts expect $2.80. U.S. comparable store sales is still expected to drop in the low single digit range. Total U.S. sales is currently forecast to increase in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent versus 3 percent to 4 percent projected earlier.

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As of the end of the third quarter, the company operated 1,482 BIG LOTS stores in the 48 contiguous United States and 79 LIQUIDATION WORLD and LW stores in Canada.

BIG shares, which have been trading in the 52-week range of $26.69 to $47.22, closed at $28.04 on Monday.

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