Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) posted a significant decline in profits for its first quarter, although sales were better and the retail chain managed to come out ahead of analyst expectations. Big Lots also increased its guidance, lighting a fire under investors who sent shares higher throughout the day. The stock hit a two-year high today thanks to the company’s strong results.

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Big Lots beats expectations

The company posted earnings of $3.3 million or 6 cents per share in the first quarter of the year, compared to $32.3 million or 56 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago. Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) said it lost 44 cents per share in connection with its Canadian division.

Earnings from continuing operations were $28.6 million or 50 cents per share. That’s a decline from $37.1 million or 64 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose to $1.28 billion, an increase of 1.1%. It was also enough to beat consensus estimates at $1.26 billion. Analysts had been expecting profits of 44 cents per share.

Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) had guided for earnings of between 40 cents and 45 cents per share for the quarter. The retail chain had also warned before that reporting its Canadian unit as discontinued operations would impact its results by between 64 cents and 71 cents per share. Big Lots said late last year that it planned to exit Canada and focus entirely on its domestic retail locations.

Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) reported that same store sales increased .9% during the first quarter. Management said increases in sales of home goods, furniture and food helped boost results. They also said sales of freezers and coolers had a positive impact on sales, as they started adding them into stores. Management plans to continue doing that throughout this year.

Big Lots raises guidance

For the full year, Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) said it expects to see earnings per share of between $2.35 and $2.50 from continuing operations. That’s an increase from the company’s previous guidance of between $2.25 and $2.35 per share. For the current quarter, the company guided for earnings of between 24 cents and 30 cents per share. That’s higher than consensus estimates at 28 cents per share.