Net earnings for the quarter grew to $182.0 million, up 23% from $148.3 million in the prior year. Sales for the 13 weeks ended July 28, 2012 increased 12% to $2.341 billion, with comparable store sales up 7% on top of a 5% gain in 2011.
For the six months ended July 28, 2012, earnings per share were $1.74, up from $1.38 for the six months ended July 30, 2011. These results represent a 26% increase on top of a 23% gain in the first half of 2011.
Net earnings for the six months ended July 28, 2012 were $390.6 million, up 22% from $321.2 million in the prior year period. Sales for the first six months of 2012 increased 13% to $4.698 billion, with comparable store sales up 8% on top of a 4% gain last year.
Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased with our better-than-expected results for the second quarter and first six months of 2012. Our strong sales and earnings growth for both periods continues to be driven by our ability to deliver compelling name brand bargains to today's value-focused consumers while strictly controlling both inventories and expenses."
Mr. Balmuth continued, "Operating margin for the second quarter grew about 110 basis points to a record 12.8% due to an 80 basis point improvement in cost of goods sold combined with a 30 basis point reduction in selling, general and administrative expenses from the robust gain in same store sales."
Mr. Balmuth also noted, "We continued to enhance stockholder returns through our stock repurchase and dividend programs in the second quarter. During the first six months of fiscal 2012, we repurchased 3.7 million shares of common stock for an aggregate price of $224 million. We remain on track to buy back a total of $450 million in common stock during fiscal 2012 to complete the two-year $900 million program authorized in early 2011."
Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, "For the 13 weeks ending October 27, 2012, we are forecasting same store sales to increase 3% to 4% and earnings per share in the range of $.63 to $.66.
“This compares to earnings per share of $.63 in last year's third quarter, which benefited from both better-than-expected shortage results and a lower tax rate due to favorable tax audit settlements. Together these two items increased third quarter 2011 earnings per share by about $.06.
“For the 13 weeks ending January 26, 2013, the Company is projecting same store sales to be up 1% to 2% on top of a strong 7% increase in the fourth quarter of 2011. Earnings per share for the 14 weeks ending February 2, 2013 are forecast to be in the range of $.99 to $1.04, which includes an estimated $.08 to $.09 benefit from the 53rd week this year, and compares to $.85 for the 13 weeks ended January 28, 2012."
For the 53 weeks ending February 2, 2013, the Company is now forecasting earnings per share to be in the range of $3.36 to $3.44, up from $2.86 for the 52 weeks ended January 28, 2012. On a 52-week basis, the Company's updated forecast for fiscal 2012 represents projected EPS growth of 14% to 17% over the prior year.
Ross Stores Inc.
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