BJ's Wholesale 1Q profit rises 42 percent

May 20, 2009 8:02:07 AM PDT
BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit rose 42 percent, narrowly beating Wall Street expectations, and raised its 2009 profit guidance. But its sales were below analysts' estimates and its shares fell 59 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $37.47 in morning trading.

BJ's, which is nation's third-biggest warehouse club, has largely seen it business hold strong during the recession as more shoppers turn to its stores for deals on food and basic daily items.

It operates primarily in the Northeast and faces tough competition from Costco Wholesale Corp. and Sam's Club.

Natick, Mass.-based BJ's earned $24.3 million, or 45 cents per share, in the quarter that ended May 2, up from $17.2 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 44 cents a share. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Revenue rose 0.2 percent to $2.26 billion from $2.25 billion a year earlier. But the latest sales results were below the analysts' consensus estimate of $2.31 billion.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, fell 1.5 percent, dragged down by lower gas purchases.

The retailer said it expects to earn $2.44 to $2.54 a share for the year, an improvement over its previous guidance of $2.42 to $2.52.

The company also said it bought back 2.38 million shares worth about $70.4 million during the quarter. Another $138.2 million remains for future buybacks under the current plan.

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