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Big Lots Cuts Same-store Sales Outlook, Shares Tumble

Shares of Big Lots Inc. (BIG) tumbled more than 14 percent in extended trade on Monday after the broadline closeout retailer lowered its outlook for first-quarter comparable store sales in the U.S., citing softening sales trends of consumables and play n' wear, particularly electronics.

For the first quarter ending April 28, the Columbus, Ohio-based company now expect U.S. comparable store sales to be "slightly negative", compared to its prior guidance for comparable store sales increase of 2 percent to 4 percent.

Comparable-store sales or comps is a key retail industry performance metric to gauge activity at store locations that have been open for at least a year.

The company noted that U.S. comparable store sales were on plan through the first six weeks of the quarter. However, sales compared to plan began to slow in late March and trends further softened in April.

According to Big Lots, furniture, hardlines, and seasonal, particularly lawn and garden, were among its best performing businesses in the quarter. Meanwhile, sales of consumables and play n' wear, particularly electronics, were currently below expectations.

Based on quarter-to-date, the company anticipates first-quarter retail sales for its recently acquired Canadian operations will be "slightly above" its guidance in a range of $25 million to $30 million.

The company will release its first quarter sales and earnings results on Wednesday, May 23.

In early March, Big Lots reported an increase in profit for the fourth quarter on improved demand and increase in comparable store sales.

Net income for the quarter rose to $114.72 million or $1.75 per share from $110.06 million or $1.46 per share in the year-ago period. Net sales for the quarter grew to $1.67 billion from $1.52 billion in the prior-year quarter.

BIG closed Monday's trading at $45.71, down $0.16 or 0.35 percent on a volume of 1.20 million shares. In after-hours trading, the stock further declined $6.70 or 14.66 percent to $39.01.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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