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Ross Stores plans same store sales to be relatively flat for October
Oct '08
Ross Stores Inc reported sales of $561 million for the five weeks ended October 4, 2008, a 5% increase over the $537 million in sales for the five weeks ended October 6, 2007. Same store sales for the five weeks ended October 4, 2008 declined 2% compared to the five weeks ended October 6, 2007.

For the eight months ended October 4, 2008, sales were $4.262 billion, an 11% increase over the $3.853 billion in sales for the eight months ended October 6, 2007. Comparable store sales for the eight months ended October 4, 2008 rose 3% over the eight months ended October 6, 2007.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "During September, we experienced an unexpected slowdown from our healthy same store sales trend for the first seven months of the year.

Weather was a significant factor during the month, as we estimate that the combination of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Tropical Storm Hannah, and unseasonably warm weather throughout the western United States reduced comparable store sales by about 2%. We also believe that the recent disruptions in the credit and financial markets have had a negative impact on the consumer."

Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, "We continue to believe that our resilient off-price model provides the flexibility to manage through the current business climate with less volatility than most full-price retailers. We are able to do this by reducing inventories and expenses while also taking advantage of the huge supply of compelling name brand bargains in the market.

That said, based on the heightened uncertainty in today's macro-economic and retail landscape, and factoring in September's performance, we believe it is prudent to adopt a more cautious outlook for the balance of the year. We are now planning same store sales to be relatively flat for October and flat to up 2% for the fourth quarter."

Mr. Balmuth continued, "Better-than-planned shortage results and other expense savings are expected to offset much of the impact to gross margin from our more conservative sales outlook. Based on these assumptions, we are now projecting earnings per share ("EPS") for the 13 weeks ending November 1, 2008 to be toward the lower end of our current range of $.42 to $.44, compared to $.36 in the prior year. For the 13 weeks ending January 31, 2009, we have widened our forecasted EPS range of $.78 to $.81 to $.76 to $.81, compared to $.70 in the prior year."

Ross Stores Inc

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