Big Lots, BJ's See Lower Earnings

Two bargain retailers saw earnings fall in the first quarter, with both citing bad weather. Despite the reduced earnings, however, they beat analysts' estimates and reported higher revenue.

BJ's Wholesale ( BJ) posted a drop in first-quarter earnings but, excluding items, beat analysts expectations, citing an increase in comparable club sales.

Including a charge, the company earned $11.3 million, or 16 cents a share, in the quarter ended May 3, compared with $23.1 million, or 32 cents a share, in the previous-year quarter.

Excluding items, the wholesaler earned 18 cents a share. Analysts polled by First Call had expected 16 cents a share.

Sales rose 15.7% to $1.48 billion, the company said. Comparable club sales grew 5.7%, of which 4.7% was gasoline sales. On a comparable club basis, food sales rose 3.2% but general merchandise sales fell 2.5%. Natick, Mass.-based BJ's cited a weaker economic climate and colder weather in the Northeast.

Shares of BJ's closed at $15.65 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, discount retailer Big Lots' ( BLI) quarterly results beat analysts' expectations by a penny. The company cited strong lawn and garden and home furnishing sales for increasing gross margins.

Big Lots earned $10.2 million, or 9 cents a share, in the quarter ended May 3, compared with $12.2 million, or 11 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts had forecast 8 cents a share.

"Several external factors, including late deliveries due to the west coast port dispute as well as unseasonably harsh winter weather, have resulted in a shorter than anticipated selling season, below plan sales results, and higher than plan inventory in this seasonal category," said Big Lots' Chief Executive Michael J. Potter.

Sales were $948.4 million, up 5% from last year. Comparable stores grew 1%, down significantly from last year's 11.7% increase.

Shares of Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots closed at $11.61 Monday after the bell.

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