US-based BJ’s Wholesale Club posted an increase in first-quarter net income on Tuesday (20 May) and raised its earnings guidance for 2009.

For the three months to 2 May, net income reached US$24.3m, compared to $17.2m in the previous year.

Net sales for the period increased by 0.2% to $2.26bn. Comparable club sales dropped by 1.5%, including the negative impact from sales of gasoline of 9%.

Excluding the impact of gasoline, merchandise comparable club sales increased for the first quarter of 2009 by 7.5%.

Operating income was also up for the period, reaching $41.2m from $29.1m in 2008.

During the quarter, the company purchased around 2.38 million shares of BJ’s common stock at an average cost of $29.57 per share, or around $70.4m, leaving around $138.2m remaining under the current repurchase authorization.

For the year ending 30 January 2010, the company now expects to report earnings per diluted share in the range of $2.44 to $2.54 compared to previous guidance of $2.42 to $2.52.