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Big Lots Reports Double-Digit Profit Hike in Q4, Fiscal Year

Despite a slight decline in same-store sales in the fourth quarter, discount retailer Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) reported a double-digit increase in earnings for the quarter and the fiscal year that ended Feb. 3.

Net sales for the quarter totaled $1.64 billion, up 4% from $1.58 billion in the prior year’s fourth quarter. However, the increase was due largely to an extra week in the most recent fiscal quarter, and the retailer said same-store sales slipped 0.1%.

Net income totaled $104.8 million or $2.46 per share. That was up 16.4% from $90.1 million or $1.99 per share in the previous year’s fourth quarter. The company said the extra week in the most recent fiscal quarter added about 9 cents per share to the bottom line.

For the 53-week fiscal year ended Feb. 3, sales totaled $5.271 billion, up 1.4% from $5.2 billion in the previous 52-week fiscal year.

Net income for the most recent fiscal year totaled $189.8 million or $4.38 per share. That was up more than 24% from $152.8 million or $3.32 per share in the previous fiscal year.

Big Lots said the fiscal year results included a one-time charge of 11 cents per share due to a reduction in the value of its deferred tax assets. However, the tax reform bill signed into law in December will lower its corporate tax rate, and the retailer said about 70% of that benefit would be re-invested in the business and 30% would be returned to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends.

Among other things, the company said it is looking to increase its benefits package for employees “with the goal of becoming more of an employer of choice.”

The company said its board of directors earlier this week approved a $100 million share repurchase program, as well as a 20% increase in the quarterly cash dividend. The new dividend of 30 cents per share is payable April 6 to stockholders of record March 23.

Big Lots also said President and CEO David Campisi remains on medical leave, which began in December. No timetable was given for his return.

In the interim, his responsibilities are continuing to be overseen by Lisa Bachmann, executive vice president, chief merchandising and operating officer, and Timothy Johnson, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief financial officer. 

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