Pleasanton Weekly

- March 2, 2012

Ross Stores reports sales increase of 10% for first 4 weeks of January

'Sales well ahead of our expectations,' Pleasanton company's CEO says

Pleasanton-based Ross Stores, Inc. has reported sales for the four weeks ending Jan. 28 of $483 million, an increase of 10% over the $441 million in sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 29, 2011. Same store sales for the four weeks ended this past Jan. 28 grew 5% on top of 3% and 8% gains in the prior two years.

For the 13 weeks ending Jan. 28, 2012, sales rose 12% to $2.398 billion, from $2.145 billion for the 13 weeks ending Jan. 29, 2011. Comparable store sales for the quarter ended Jan. 28, 2012 increased 7% on top of 4% and 10% growth in the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2009, respectively.

For the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28, 2012, sales grew 9% to $8.608 billion, compared to $7.866 billion in sales for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 29, 2011. Comparable store sales for the 2011 fiscal year rose 5% on top of 5% and 6% increases in fiscal 2010 and 2009.

"Sales for both January and the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 were well ahead of our expectations as our wide assortments of compelling name-brand bargains continue to appeal to today's value-focused consumers," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer.

"Juniors, Shoes and Children's were the strongest merchandise categories during the month, while Florida and the Mid-Atlantic were the top performing regions," Balmuth added.

The company also announced that its board of directors recently approved a 27% increase in the quarterly cash dividend to $.14 per common share, payable on March 30 to stockholders of record as of Feb. 17.

"Our strong financial position and anticipated future cash flows allow us to continue to enhance stockholder returns through both our dividend and share repurchase programs," Balmuth said. "The higher dividend announced today represents the 18th consecutive annual increase since our dividend program was initiated in 1994."

"In addition, we are pleased to report that during 2011 we repurchased a total of 11.3 million shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $450 million," he added. "We expect to complete as planned the remaining $450 million repurchase authorization in fiscal year 2012."

Based on January sales and margin results, the company is raising its profit forecast for the 13 weeks ending Jan. 28 with earnings per share now estimated to be in the range of $.84 to $.85. These projected results would represent a 22% to 23% increase over the $.69 for the 13 weeks ending Jan. 29, 2011.

For the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28, 2012, earnings per share are estimated to grow 23% to 24% to $2.85 to $2.86, up from $2.31 for the 2010 fiscal year ending Jan. 29, 2011. All share and per share figures reflect the company's recent two-for-one stock split.


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