The Columbus, Ohio-based company said net sales in the three months through Oct. 31 rose to $1.38 billion from $1.17 billion in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted per-share earnings swung to a $0.76 gain from a loss of $0.18 last year. Analysts polled by Capital IQ had expected net sales of $1.35 billion and normalized EPS of $0.66.
Comparable-store sales jumped nearly 18%, above the Street's view for a 15% gain.
Chief Executive Bruce Thorn said the adjusted EPS and comparable-store sales results were the highest for the third quarter, crediting Big Lots' "continued strategic management of our business and tight control of expenses."
Thorn said the company is continuing to roll out its Operation North Star strategies, which it announced early last year to restructure its operations.
Selling and administrative expenses in the just-ended quarter rose to $482.3 million from $436.7 million the year before. Gross margin in the just-ended quarter rose to 40.5%, above 39.7% last year and just ahead of the 40.4% expected by the Street.
Big Lots withdrew its full-year guidance for fiscal 2020 at the end of March as the COVID-19 pandemic slammed into the US economy. It said Friday didn't have "sufficient visibility" to provide guidance for the current quarter or reinstate its full-year outlook.
"This year's holiday season is certainly unique, and our strategic decision to plan for early holiday shopping has paid off," Thorn said. "Although we expect business to moderate given the elongated season, we are pleased with the strong start we have made to the fourth quarter."
Price: 47.83, Change: -5.02, Percent Change: -9.50
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