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Big Lots loss only half as bad as planned

The addition of 27 new stores wasn’t enough to prevent Big Lots from reporting a 1.9% sales decline during the quarter ended October 27.

The operator of 1,482 closeout stores in the U.S. said sales declined 1.9% to a little more than $1 billion and same store sales dropped 4.6% during the company’s third fiscal quarter. The addition of 27 new stores helped mitigate the comp decline and from a profit standpoint Big Lot’s lost less money than it expected and most of the loss was related to Canada where the company operates 79 Liquidation World stores. The company reported a loss from continuing operations of $6 million, or 10 cents a share, that was well below earlier guidance that called for a loss in the range of 20 cents to 30 cents. Seven cents of the 10 cent loss was attributable to the relatively young Canadian business acquired in July 2011. Last year, Big Lots reported a profit from continuing operations of six cents a share.

With a better than expected third quarter loss, Big Lots updated it full year financial forecast and now envisions income from continuing operations ranging from $2.86 to $3.05. Much of that amount is expected to come during the fourth quarter when income from continuing operations is forecast to be $1.91 to $2.20, despite expectations of a low single digit same store sales decline at U.S. stores.