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Ross Stores registers robust sales & earnings growth in Q3
Nov '09
Ross Stores, Inc. reported that earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended October 31, 2009 increased 91% to $.84, from $.44 for the 13 weeks ended November 1, 2008. Net earnings for the third quarter ended October 31, 2009 grew 83% to a record $105.1 million, up from $57.3 million for the third quarter ended November 1, 2008. Fiscal 2009 third quarter sales increased 12% to $1.744 billion, with comparable store sales up a strong 8% over last year.

For the nine months ended October 31, 2009, earnings per share increased 52% to $2.39, from $1.57 for the nine months ended November 1, 2008. Net earnings for the year-to-date period in 2009 grew 44% to a record $299.9 million, up from $208.1 million in the prior year period. Sales for the first nine months of 2009 increased 10% to $5.204 billion, with comparable store sales up 5% on top of a 3% gain in the prior year period.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are very pleased with our robust sales and earnings growth in the third quarter and first nine months, both of which were well ahead of plan. Our ability to deliver compelling bargains, while operating our business on much lower inventories, remains the primary driver of these outstanding results. In addition, shortage results from our annual physical inventory during the quarter were much better than expected, mainly due to the ongoing successful implementation of our shortage control initiatives. Shoes and Dresses continued to be the top merchandise categories while the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic remained the strongest regions."

Mr. Balmuth continued, "Third quarter operating margin grew about 385 basis points to 9.9%, due to 340 basis points of higher gross margin and a 45 basis point decline in selling, general and administrative costs. The gross margin improvement was from a combination of healthy merchandise gross margin gains, much lower than expected shortage results, a decline in freight and distribution expenses as a percent of sales, and leverage on occupancy costs."

Mr. Balmuth also noted, "As we ended the third quarter, our balance sheet and cash flows remained healthy. We continued to return capital to stockholders through our stock repurchase and dividend programs. During the first nine months of fiscal 2009, we repurchased 5.8 million shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $230 million. We are on track to complete the remaining $70 million stock repurchase authorization by the end of fiscal 2009."

Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, "As we enter the important holiday season, we remain well positioned as a value retailer, and our stores are stocked with fresh and exciting assortments of terrific name-brand bargains. That said, with a still uncertain economic climate, we believe it is prudent to maintain our prior forecast for both sales and earnings."

"For the 13 weeks ending January 30, 2010, we continue toforecast same store sales gains of 5% to 6% and earnings per share in the range of $.88 to $.94. For the fiscal year ending January 30, 2010, we now project earnings per share to increase 40% to 43% to $3.27 to $3.33, up from $2.33 in fiscal 2008," concluded Mr. Balmuth.

Ross Stores Inc

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