Treasure hunt still luring shoppers to Ross

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
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Ross Stores is showing that consumers are still willing to hit the stores if they feel like they’re getting a deal.

For the third quarter ended Oct. 28, same store sales increased 4% at Ross. Net earnings grew to $274 million, up from $245 million in the prior year. Third quarter sales rose 8% to $3.3 billion.

“Our third quarter sales and earnings outperformed our expectations despite being up against our toughest prior year comparisons and two major hurricanes during the quarter," said Barbara Rentler, Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased with these strong results, which reflect our continued market share gains in a challenging retail environment. Operating margin of 13.3% was better-than-expected, mainly due to a combination of higher merchandise margin and leverage on above-plan sales.”

The retailer said the home category, which includes consumables and pet supplies, performed above expectations. 

"The trends that are out there, we have in our assortment and because we've been able to execute at such a high level and have liquidity, we've been able to take availability and get in season goods. And so we feel pretty good about our assortments as we enter into the fourth quarter," Rentler said in an earnings call.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2017, earnings per share at Ross were $2.36, up 15% on top of an 11% gain last year. Net earnings were $912 million, compared to $817 million in the prior year. Sales year-to-date rose 8% to $10.1 billion, with comparable store sales up 4% versus a 4% gain in the same period last year.

“Given our better-than-expected trends in the third quarter, we are raising our sales expectations for the fourth quarter. For the 13 weeks ending Jan. 27, 2018, comparable store sales are now forecast to increase 2% to 3% versus a 4% gain last year. Earnings per share for the 14 weeks ending February 3, 2018 are projected to be $.88 to $.92, up from $.77 in the prior year period. Based on this updated guidance and our year-to-date results, we are now planning earnings per share for fiscal 2017 to be in the range of $3.24 to $3.28,” Rentler said.

Ross Stores is the largest off-price chain in the United States with 1,412 locations in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.