Big Lots Stock Crushed on Canadian Store Closing

Paul Ausick

Big Lots Inc. (BIG) reported third-quarter fiscal 2013 results after markets closed Thursday evening. The discount retailer posted an adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) loss of $0.16 and $1.15 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, Big Lots reported an EPS loss of $0.11 on revenue of $1.13 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for an EPS loss of $0.08 and $1.16 billion in revenue.

The big news from Big Lots is that it plans to shut down its Canadian operations, where it now claims 73 Liquidation World stores, five Big Lots stores, two distribution centers and an office. The company expects operations to cease during the first fiscal quarter of 2014.

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The company's announcement offers an explanation of its decision to close its Canadian stores:

[W]e have not been able to gain the necessary traction in the Canadian marketplace that had originally been anticipated and believe that the significant further capital investments and execution risk associated with continuing to pursue a turnaround would not be in the best interests of our company and shareholders. … The strategic decision to exit Canada will enable us to focus our resources on introducing e-commerce and omnichannel capabilities, rolling out coolers and freezers to our chain of stores, launching a furniture financing program, significantly realigning our merchandising organization, and moving swiftly to implement our "edit to amplify" merchandising strategy. These bold steps forward all possess the singularly focused goal of strengthening the Big Lots brand and reinvigorating our U.S. business.

Same-store sales fell 2.5% in the third quarter, compared with sales in the similar period of last year.

The company estimated an EPS loss of $0.65 to $0.75 related to closing down the Canadian operations and a full fiscal year loss of $0.90 to $0.98 a share. The company will begin reporting the Canadian stores as discontinued operations in the first quarter of 2014, and it expects that loss to be in the range of $0.75 to $0.80 a share.

Big Lots guided adjusted EPS from continuing U.S. operations of $1.40 to $1.55 for its fourth quarter ending in January, as well as $2.40 to $2.55 a share for the full fiscal year. These estimates are below previous guidance of $2.08 for the fourth quarter and $3.21 for the full year. The quarterly guidance assumes a same-store sales decline in the low to mid single digits and a total U.S. sales drop of 6% to 8%. The consensus estimates call for fourth-quarter EPS of $2.11 and full-year EPS of $2.94.

Shares of Big Lots lost 10% in after-hours trading Thursday, after closing at $37.13 in a 52-week range of $27.09 to $39.22. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $38.50 before these results were announced.

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