Ross Stores rang up first quarter sales gains at the high end of its guidance for the quarter.
The off-price retailer reported earnings per share for the first quarter ended May 4 of $1.15, up from $1.11 for the same period last year. Net earnings for the 2019 first quarter were $421 million, compared to $418 million in the prior year. These results include an approximate $.02 per share benefit from the favorable timing of expenses that are expected to reverse over the balance of the year.
Sales for the period grew 6% to $3.8 billion, with comparable store sales up 2%.
Barbara Rentler, Ross Stores CEO, stated, “For the first quarter, we delivered sales gains at the high end of our guidance as well as better-than-expected earnings per share growth despite continued underperformance in ladies apparel. While operating margin of 14.1% was down from the prior year, it was above plan mainly due to higher merchandise margin. As expected, this improvement was more than offset by increases in freight and wage costs and the timing of packaway-related expenses that benefited the prior year period.”
Looking ahead, Rentler said, “For the 13 weeks ending August 3, 2019, we are forecasting same store sales to be up 1% to 2% on top of a 5% gain last year. Second quarter 2019 earnings per share are projected to be $1.06 to $1.11, up from $1.04 in the prior year period.”