Big Lots ( BLI) reported sales of $1.14 billion for the fourth quarter, up 2.4% increase from $1.11 billion in the year-ago period. Including a charge, Big Lots reported a loss from continuing operations of $1.9 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with earnings from continuing operations of $68.2 million, or 61 cents a share, in the prior year. Excluding the charge, the company earned 50 cents, a penny ahead of estimates. Big Lots forecast 2002 earnings of 35 cents to 40 cents a share. For the first quarter, the company offered a bottom line projection ranging from a loss of 2 cents to a profit of a penny.