http://www.morningstar.com/earnings/49397414-big-lots-inc-big-q4-2012.aspx

Big Lots Inc BIG
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 03/06/2013

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Big Lots Fourth Quarter 2012 Conference Call. Today’s conference is being recorded. During this session, all lines will be muted until the question-and-answer portion of the call.

At this time, I would like to introduce today's first speaker, Director of Investor Relations, Andy Regrut. Please go ahead, sir.

Andrew D. Regrut - Director, IR: Thanks, David, and thank you everyone for joining us for our fourth quarter conference call. With me here today in Columbus are Steve Fishman, our Chairman, CEO and President; Chuck Haubiel, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer; and Tim Johnson, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer.

Before we get started, I'd like to remind you that any forward-looking statements we make on today's call involve risks and uncertainties, and are subject to our Safe Harbor provisions as stated in our press release and our SEC filings and that actual results can differ materially from those described in our forward-looking statements.

Our consolidated financials include results from our U.S. operations and from our Canadian business that was acquired on July 18, 2011. Our statements also include immaterial amounts of discontinued operations activity. All commentary today is focused on adjusted non-GAAP results from continuing operations. A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP adjusted earnings for fiscal 2012 is available in today's press release.

One other housekeeping item to mention, starting in the fourth quarter of 2012, the results of the toy business were moved from Play n' Wear to the Hardlines category as a result of realignment of management responsibilities. The Play n' Wear category now consist of electronics, jewelry, apparel, lingerie, hosiery and infants, while Hardlines includes toys, automotive, tools, paint, electric, plumbing, home maintenance, appliances, books and sporting goods. This change along with the separation of consumables into two separate categories food and consumables will be discussed by Steve later in the call and reflected in our Form-10K to be filed in early April.

This morning Steve will start the call with a few opening comments. Chuck will provide an update on real estate, TJ will comment on the final results for 2012 and our guidance for fiscal 2013, and Steve will complete our prepared remarks before taking your questions.

So with that, I’ll turn it over to Steve.

Steven S. Fishman - Chairman, President and CEO: Thanks, Andy and good morning everyone. As we entered the fourth quarter, we knew the customer buying trends in the U.S. would be difficult to predict given the national election and uncertain economy and a challenging job market. On our last call, we discussed early Q4 trends. You will recall the first two to three weeks of November were very tough with the national election and several external factors impacting retailer’s results. Then Thanksgiving and Black Friday came along, customers responded and our business trend started to show some improvement.

We were pleased to see the improving trends from Thanksgiving week continued and for the five-week December period, comps were slightly positive. However, as you’ve heard from other retailers, the finish to Q4 specifically the latter part of January was quite a challenge. The mandated payroll tax increase kicked in around 15 January and we noticed a change in consumer buying trends.

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