Big Lots raised its guidance for the balance of the year, taking fiscal 2016 expectations to a range of $3.55 to $3.60, up from prior forecasts of $3.45 to $3.55. Analysts had been hugging the high end of the prior guidance range - again, reflecting their belief that the company typically under promised and over delivered - with consensus forecasts of $3.53.
The shares jumped on the open, reflecting enthusiasm for the improved guidance, and has gained on an intraday basis Friday, now up 0.14% to $50.84.
Management of the discount retailer is known among analysts for its conservative guidance. And it's stock has had a tendency to trade down on earnings news. So Friday's developments represented something of a departure for the company.
Some things proved true to form: The company posted what became its 11th straight quarter without a same store sales decline, though this only narrowly. Sales comparisons were flat, but compared with other names in the discount retail segment - not to mention retailers in general - keeping comps out of the red is, in itself, an accomplishment.
For its fiscal third quarter, which ended Oct. 29, Big Lots posted earnings of $1.4 million, down slightly from the year-ago $1.5 million. On a per share basis, adjusted EPS came in at 4 cents, ahead of forecasts calling for a marginal loss. Third quarter revenue slipped 1% to $1.11 billion versus forecasts of $1.2 billion, reflecting, in part, a smaller number of store locations versus a year ago.
For the current January ending quarter, Big Lots sees EPS coming in between $2.18 and $2.23, versus forecasts of $2.21 a share, with the retailer adding that sales comparisons would be flat to up 2%.