Big Lots breaks earnings records as coronavirus spurs discount-shopping

Sales rose 31% year-over-year

Big Lots Inc. reported record second-quarter results as discount-seeking shoppers thronged the retailer's stores and website in the wake of COVID-19.

The Columbus, Ohio-based retailer said sales in the three months through June rose 31% year-over-year to $1.64 billion, outpacing the $1.61 billion that Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refintiv were anticipating.

Big Lots earned $452 million, or $11.29 per share, including a one-time after-tax benefit of $341.9 million, or $8.54 per share, related to the sale of distribution centers through a leaseback deal.

Excluding the benefit, adjusted earnings were $2.75 per share, outpacing the $2.70 that was expected.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BIG BIG LOTS INC. 4.10 -0.26 -5.99%

“I am delighted with our record-breaking results,” CEO Bruce Thorn said in a statement.  “Adjusted earnings per share was the most we've reported in a second quarter, and more than five times what we reported a year ago.”

Comparable sales, or those at stores open at least 12 months, climbed 31%, and were strong both in-store and online, which added almost 5 percentage points. The company brought in the most new online customers of any quarter in its history.


Strong sales across all categories and a slightly lower store count reduced inventory by 18% from last year to $714 million.

Cash on hand totaled $899 million versus $43 million of debt, compared with $54 million cash and $468 million debt a year earlier.

Big Lots withdrew its financial guidance in March and expects to provide an update in September.

The company’s board of directors on Thursday evening introduced a new $500 million share buyback plan.


Shares were up 94% this year through Thursday, outpacing the S&P 500’s 7.85% gain.