Discount retailer Big Lots (BIG) - Get Report beat market expectations on 2016 first-quarter earnings as momentum in comparable store sales continued.

Earning per share in the first quarter amounted to 79 cents a share, compared to Wall Street bets on 70 cents a share. Earnings rose from 60 cents a share during the same period last year.

Net sales for the first quarter rose 2.5% to $1.31 billion, as a 3% increase in comparable store sales for stores open at least 15 months was partially offset by a lower store count compared to last year, the company said.

Comp sales increased for a ninth straight quarter, said David Campisi, CEO and president of Big Lots, saying he was "very pleased" with results coming in at the high end of the company's own range.

He added that the typical customer -- or "Jennifer," as the company likes to think of her -- continues to respond positively to its strategic focus on "own-able and winnable" merchandise categories, improved merchandise presentations and more consistent in-store execution.

The company also announced a quarterly cash dividend of 21 cents per common share, to be paid out on June 24. It will be paid to shareholders of record as of the close of business on June 10.

The Columbus, Ohio-based retailer operates 1,448 Big Lots stores in 47 states, which sell a wide range of goods from food to furniture and electronics.

Prior to the results, TheStreet Ratings had a "buy" rating on the stock with a letter grade of B+.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated the stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: BIG