Big Lots Inc. shares rose 2.7% premarket after the wholesaler posted better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter. The company said it had net income of $94.6 million, or $2.62 a share, in the quarter, almost double the $49.3 million, or $1.26 a share, posted in the year-earlier period. Sales rose 13% to $1.626 billion from $1.439 billion. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of $1.72 and sales of $1.544 billion. Chief Executive Bruce Thorn said earnings were driven by strategic moves as well as the third round of stimulus that began in March. “We saw double digit growth across all merchandise categories other than Food and Consumables, which were greatly bolstered last year by quarantine-related stock-up spending early in the pandemic,” Thorn said in a statement. Lawn and garden and furniture and home sales were also strong, he said. The company is not offering full-year guidance due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, but said it expects second-quarter EPS to range from $1.00 to $1.15, compared with a FactSet consensus of $1.04. Shares have gained 50.7% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 11.8%.

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