Ross Stores Q4 Profit Up on Higher Sales, Better Margins

Ross StoresPleasanton, CA—Aided by strong sales and a higher gross margin, Ross Stores reported Thursday that its fourth quarter profit rose 19%.

For the quarter ended Jan. 28, the off-price retailer posted net income of $192 million, or 85 cents a share, compared with $161.8 million, or 69 cents a share, a year earlier.

Net revenue increased 12% to $2.4 billion with comparable store sales up 7%. Gross margin expanded to 27.2% from 27.1%.

The earnings were in line with Ross’ earlier projection and analysts’ average estimate forecast earnings of 85 cents a share on sales of $2.39 billion.

Sales ‘Driven by Value-Focused Consumers’

“Our healthy revenue growth continues to be driven mainly by our ability to deliver compelling bargains on a wide assortment of exciting name brand fashions for the family and the home to today’s increasingly value-focused consumers,” Michael Balmuth, ceo, said.

For its fiscal year, Ross’ net earnings grew 18% to $652.2 million; earnings per share were $2.86, up 24% on top of a 31% increase in 2010 and a 52% increases in 2009. Comparable store sales increased 5% on top of a 5% increase in 2010.

“Our improved profitability for both the quarter and the full year were driven primarily by a combination of higher merchandise gross margin, lower shortage costs and leverage on operating expenses from our strong sales gains,” Balmuth added.

In February, Ross Stores said it expected a full year profit of $3.12 to $3.27 a share, but the company didn’t provide an update in its fourth quarter report.

Balmuth, however, projected a “respectable increase” in revenue and earnings per share in 2012 “and beyond.”



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