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Ross Stores sales perk up
May '10
Ross Stores Inc reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended May 1, 2010 of $1.16, up from $.72 for the quarter ended May 2, 2009. These results represent a 61% increase on top of 20% growth in the prior year. Net earnings for the first quarter of 2010 rose 56% to a record $142.3 million, up from $91.4 million in the first quarter of 2009. Sales for the 13 weeks ended May 1, 2010 grew 14% to $1.935 billion, with comparable store sales up 10% on top of a 3% gain in the prior year.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are very pleased with our exceptional first quarter performance, which was driven by robust sales gains and record levels of profitability that were well ahead of plan. We believe our results continue to benefit from the superior execution of our off-price strategies combined with our favorable position as a value retailer in the current economic and retail environment."

Mr. Balmuth continued, "Operating margin for the quarter grew about 320 basis points to a record 12.1%. The largest driver of this increase was a 230 basis point improvement in gross margin, which benefited mainly from higher merchandise gross margin and leverage on occupancy and distribution expenses as a percent of sales. Selling, general and administrative costs as a percent of sales declined by about 90 basis points, primarily due to leverage from the strong gains in same store sales."

Discussing the Company's financial condition, Mr. Balmuth noted, "Our balance sheet and cash flows remain healthy, and we continue to enhance stockholder returns through our stock repurchase and dividend programs. During the first three months of fiscal 2010, we repurchased 1.8 million shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $94 million. We remain on track to complete by the end of fiscal 2010 approximately $375 million of our current two-year $750 million stock repurchase authorization."

Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, "For the second quarter ending July 31, 2010, we continue to forecast a same store sales gain of 3% to 4% and earnings per share growth of 16% to 21% to $.95 to $.99, up from $.82 in the same period last year. For the 2010 fiscal year ending January 29, 2011, EPS is projected to grow 16% to 20% to $4.11 to $4.24, up from $3.54 in fiscal 2009. These forecasted increases are especially noteworthy considering they are on top of robust 52% gains in earnings per share for both the second quarter and full year in 2009."

Ross Stores, Inc., an S&P 500, Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 (ROST) company headquartered in Pleasanton, California, is the nation's second largest off-price retailer with fiscal 2009 revenues of $7.2 billion.

Ross Stores Inc

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