Big Lots (BIG) - Get Report pulled off a surprise in announcing its fiscal third quarter results: It gave an upbeat outlook for the balance of the year, and engineered an uptick in its stock price.

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%.