Big Lots Begins Hunt for New CEO, Raises Outlook

By RetailFOXBusiness

Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) raised its full-year outlook and revealed plans on Tuesday to search for a new CEO as Steven Fishman looks to retire.

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The Columbus, Ohio-based closeout retailer said it has retained recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International (NYSE:KFY) to conduct a search of both internal and external candidates to replace Fishman.

Serving as CEO since July 2005, Fishman will remain in the position until a replacement is found.

“We are pleased he has agreed to play a continuing role with the company during the transition and provide his continued services and expertise to the company in a consulting capacity following his retirement," Philip Mallott, a nine-year member of Big Lots’ board, said in a statement.

Shares of Big Lots soared more than 8.3% to as high as $30.68 in morning trade, though they remain down about 26% from January.

The announcement came as Big Lots raised its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year outlook, reflecting optimism in its near-term performance.

It now sees non-GAAP earnings in the range of $1.91 to $2.10 a share, assuming same-store sales decline in the low- to mid-single digits, though it anticipates total U.S. sales growing between 3% and 7% as it opens new stores.

The consensus is calling for EPS of $2.02 on sales of $1.79 billion in the current quarter.

For fiscal 2012, Big Lots raised its adjusted EPS outlook to $2.86 to $3.05, topping the Street’s $2.83.

The company reported an adjusted quarterly loss in its latest quarter ended Oct. 27 of $6.0 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $4.2 million, or 7 cents. Analysts in a Thomson Reuters poll had been calling for a 24-cent loss.

Big Lots’ revenue last quarter edged slightly lower to $1.13 billion from $1.138 billion last year, narrowly missing the Street’s view of $1.4 billion.

The declines were driven by a 4.6% decrease in same-store sales, a growth metric that measures sales at stores open at least 15 months, as well as softer U.S. sales.