These results represent a 21% increase on top of a 27% gain in last year's second quarter. Net earnings for the 2013 second quarter grew 17% to $213.1 million, up from $182.0 million in the prior year.
Second quarter 2013 sales increased 9% to $2.551 billion, up from $2.341 billion in the second quarter of 2012. Comparable store sales for the 13 weeks ended August 3, 2013 rose 4% over the 13 weeks ended August 4, 2012. This compared to a strong same store sales gain of 7% for the 13 weeks ended July 28, 2012.
For the six months ended August 3, 2013, earnings per share were $2.06, up from $1.74 for the six months ended July 28, 2012. These results represent earnings per share growth of 18% on top of a 26% gain in the first half of 2012.
Net earnings for the six months ended August 3, 2013 were $447.7 million, up 15% from $390.6 million in the first half of 2012. Sales for the first six months of 2013 increased 8% to $5.091 billion, with comparable store sales up 3% on top of a robust 8% gain for the six months ended July 28, 2012.
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 2013, which were mainly driven by above-plan sales and merchandise gross margin.
"Our performance for both the quarter and year-to-date periods continues to benefit from the solid execution of our core off-price strategy of delivering compelling name brand bargains to today's value-focused consumers."
Mr. Balmuth continued, "Operating margin for the second quarter grew to a record 13.6%, up from 12.8% in the prior year. This increased level of profitability was driven by a 70 basis point improvement in cost of goods sold, mainly due to higher merchandise gross margin, and a 10 basis point decline in selling, general and administrative expenses."
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 2013, we repurchased 4.4 million shares of common stock for an aggregate price of $277 million. We remain on track to buy back a total of $550 million in common stock during fiscal 2013 under the two-year $1.1 billion program authorized at the beginning of this year."
Mr. Balmuth continued, "Looking ahead, given the ongoing uncertainty in the macro-economic environment and the potential for a more promotional and competitive retail climate, we believe it is prudent to maintain a somewhat cautious outlook for the remainder of the year. While we hope to do better, we continue to project earnings per share of $.75 to $.78 for the 13 weeks ending November 2, 2013.
“This compares to $.72 in last year's third quarter, which included about $.02 from better-than-expected shortage results. Our forecast for the 13 weeks ending February 1, 2014 also remains unchanged, with earnings per share targeted to be in the range of $.99 to $1.03. This compares to earnings per share for the 14 weeks ended February 2, 2013 of $1.07, which included a $.10 benefit from the 53rd week in 2012. This earnings guidance is based on same store sales that are projected to increase 2% to 3% for both the third and fourth quarters of 2013."
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