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Ross Maintains Pace In 2012

For the 14 weeks ended February 2, Ross Stores, Inc. reported earnings of $236.6 million, or $1.07 per share, from $192 million, or 85 cents per share, for the 13 weeks ended January 28, 2012. Comparable store sales for the quarter rose 5% year over year, the company stated.

Total sales for the 14 weeks ended February 2 grew 15% to $2.76 billion. Comps gained from increases in traffic and market basket, the company said in a conference call. Company executives said changes put in place in the home business, which sagged late last year under the weight of poor assortments, had improved performance in line with expectations. Earnings per share were in line with published analyst estimates.

For the 53 weeks ended February 2, earnings were $786.8 million, or $3.53 per diluted share, from $657.2 million, or $2.86 per diluted share, in the 52 weeks ended January 28, 2012. Comps grew 6% versus fiscal 2011.

Michael Balmuth, Ross vice chairman and CEO, commented, “We are pleased with the record sales and earnings we delivered in the fourth quarter and 2012 fiscal year, especially considering they were achieved on top of strong multi-year gains. Results for both periods benefited from our ongoing ability to deliver compelling bargains on a wide assortment of exciting name brand fashions for the family and the home to today’s value-focused consumers. Earnings before interest and taxes for the 2012 fourth quarter grew to 13.7% of sales, up from 13.0% in the fourth quarter of 2011. For fiscal 2012, operating margin rose to a record 13.1%, a gain of 75 basis points on top of an 85 basis point increase in 2011. Profit margins for both the quarter and the full year mainly benefited from higher merchandise gross margin, leverage on operating expenses from the strong gains in same store sales and the impact of the 53rd week.”

The company added 74 net new stores in fiscal 1,091 Ross stores and 108 dd’s Discounts, the company noted in the conference call.