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BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings (BJ) posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday, and confirmed its full-year profit guidance, as same store sales topped forecasts in a challenging environment for U.S. retailers. 

BJ's said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on May 4 came in at 26 cents per share, one penny ahead of the Street consensus forecast and 30% higher from the same period last year. Group sales, BJ's said, rose 2.5% to $3.07 billion, just shy of analysts' estimates of $3.12 billion. Same store sales, however, grew 2% from last year, topping the 1.3% consensus forecast.

Looking into the current fiscal year, which ends in early 2020, BJ's said its sees earnings in the range of $1.42 to $1.50 per share from revenues in the region of $12.9 billion to $13.2 billion, a forecast that's unchanged from earlier this year.

"We are pleased with our solid start to the year," said CEO Chris Baldwin. "We delivered merchandise comparable sales of 1.9%, improved margins and continued to grow earnings by executing against our strategic priorities. Looking forward, we continue to see momentum across our business and are encouraged by the opportunities ahead of us, as we continue to transform BJ's Wholesale Club."

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BJ's shares were marked 5.5% higher following the earnings release to change hands at $26.80 each, a move that would take the stock's year-to-date gain to around 21%.