Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Big Lots (BIG) - Another Good Report, but Adverse Reaction

This is the 2nd retailer in a row we've seen get hammered on the back of a good report. This tells me the hedge funds are done (for now) playing with "retailers are making a comeback because gas is falling 40 cents", and on to the next plaything. Remember, this is not a market to buy breakouts but breakdowns - retail has been strong for much of latter July and early to mid August - so now they are being sold off. These results are good for Big Lots (BIG) but reflect a bad situation for many in the lower and middle class. The company beat by 5 cents ($0.32 vs $0.27), but fundamentals mean nothing and retail was "last month's trade" and the computers in NYC/London are busy finding the next non correlated area to exploit. Full results here.
  • Close-out retailer Big Lots Inc (NYSE:BIG - News) reported an 11 percent rise in quarterly profit that beat market estimates, as shoppers headed to its stores for low prices on furniture, food and paper products, and raised its earnings forecast for the current financial year.
  • Big Lots said profit rose to $26.0 million, or 32 cents per share, in its second quarter ended August 2 from $23.4 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had been expecting a profit of 27 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
  • The retailer expects third-quarter same-store sales to rise 1 percent to 2 percent.
  • It forecast third-quarter earnings per share of 15 cents to 19 cents from continuing operations, while analysts expect 17 cents a share, before special items.
  • The company now sees fiscal 2008 earnings per share of $1.90 to $2.00 from continuing operations, up from an earlier view of $1.80 to $1.90. Analysts were looking for $1.90 a share, excluding items.
  • Big Lots specializes in sales of excess inventory. As U.S. retailers face weak consumer demand, some have been canceling orders for new shipments, leaving manufacturers with excess merchandise that is then sold to retailers like Big Lots.
  • The retailer has said the environment for finding products to sell in its stores is very good, helping to boost its results. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Steve Fishman, who took the helm of the retailer in mid-2005, has also been closing underperforming stores and adding more brand-name items, like Serta mattresses and Cuisinart appliances, to its stores.
Again, the stock is trading poorly (-5%) off what I consider to be solid results in a "sell the news" reaction. We'll let the fast money move on, and then increase the stake as we continue to believe any economic recovery is a long ways away and the discount retailers shall continue to benefit in the coming environment. In the low $31s the stock trades at forward P/E of roughly 16 based on the company's upward guidance.

The other major problem is the chart, and as you know by now, fundamentals mean nothing to the growing amount of money that trades off nothing but charts - we have a huge double top formation (mid June, mid August) which is bearish. So a company can report all the nice numbers it wants but with technical traders dominating this market, it will mean nothing.

[Aug 6: Bookkeeping: Starting Big Lots - interested in Walmart and Polo Ralph Lauren]

Long Big Lots in fund, no personal position

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