• Jennifer Marks

Big Lots Reports Record EPS

After announcing its seventh consecutive quarter of record earnings per share results, Big Lots said it will begin working on a strategic plan to address its long-term business for 2009-2011.

Merchandising, real estate and cost structure will form "the cornerstone" of the effort, president and ceo Steve Fishman told analysts during the by the 1,355-unit off-price chain's earnings call last week.

Big Lots will re-examine its merchandise categories and will also consider a smaller store format. The retailer will test e-commerce later this year, particularly with brands and merchandise that might not fit its in-store environment, Fishman said.

He also pushed back against the suggestion that Big Lots' shoppers consist entirely of low-income households. "Our results do not support this thesis at all," he said, "and to suggest otherwise is not accurate, or [it] is misinformation."

The availability of opportunistic merchandise buys remains good overall, Fishman added. "In a challenged environment, vendors like to deal with quality, investment grade companies that pay their bills on time," he said.

Profit rose 11% to $26.1 million, or 32 cents per share for the quarter ended Aug. 2. Sales bumped up 1.9% to $1.1 billion. Comps climbed 2.8% on top of the 5.2% comp bounce in last year's second quarter.

While warning back-to-school could be slack and holiday could start slowly, Big Lots raised its fiscal year guidance to earnings of $1.90 to $2.00 per share.

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