Big Lots 4Q Profit Falls, Plans Restatement

Columbus, Ohio, Closeout retailer Big Lots Inc. today reported that fourth-quarter earnings fell to $57.7 million, or 51? a share, down from $85.3 million, or 73? a share, a year ago. Sales rose 3.9% to $1.38 billion in the quarter, ended Jan. 29, while comp-store sales fell 1.3%. Analysts had expected Big Lots to earn 48? a share on sales of $1.39 billion for the quarter.

For the year, earnings fell to $25.7 million, or 22? a share, from $81.2 million, or 69? a share, in 2003, not including lease-accounting adjustments. Sales for the year rose 5% to $1.38 billion from $4.17 billion, while comp-store sales were flat.

Like many other retailers, Big Lots said it would restate financial statements to correct its lease accounting, which would probably reduce profit for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 fiscal years by less than 2? a share.

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