PLEASANTON, Calif., March 15, 2012 –Ross Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST) today reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended January 28, 2012 of $.85, up from $.69 for the 13 weeks ended January 29, 2011. These results represent a 23% increase on top of 18% and 53% gains for the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2009, respectively. Net earnings for the 2011 fourth quarter grew to $192.0 million, up 19% from $161.8 million in the prior year. Sales for the fourth quarter ended January 28, 2012 grew 12% to $2.398 billion, with comparable store sales up 7% on top of 4% and 10% gains in the fourth quarter of the prior two years.
For the 52 weeks ended January 28, 2012, earnings per share were $2.86, up 24% on top of 31% and 52% increases in fiscal 2010 and 2009, respectively. Net earnings for fiscal 2011 grew 18% to $657.2 million, from $554.8 million in the prior year. Sales for fiscal 2011 rose 9% to $8.608 billion, with same store sales up 5% on top of 5% and 6% increases in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are very pleased with our robust sales and earnings in the fourth quarter and fiscal year of 2011, especially considering they were achieved on top of strong multi-year gains. Our healthy revenue growth continues to be driven mainly by our ability to deliver compelling bargains on a wide assortment of exciting name brand fashions for the family and the home to today’s increasingly value-focused consumers.”
Mr. Balmuth continued, “Earnings before interest and taxes for the 2011 fourth quarter grew to 13.0% of sales, up about 70 basis points on top of 60 basis point and 260 basis point increases in the prior two years. For fiscal 2011, operating margin rose to a record 12.4%, up 85 basis points on top of 140 and 250 basis point gains in 2010 and 2009, respectively. Our improved profitability for both the quarter and the full year were driven primarily by a combination of higher merchandise gross margin, lower shortage costs and leverage on operating expenses from our strong sales gains.”
Operating cash flows provided the resources to make capital investments in new store growth and infrastructure as well as to fund the Company’s ongoing stock repurchase and dividend programs. A total of 11.3 million shares of common stock were repurchased during fiscal 2011, for an aggregate purchase price of $450 million, representing half of our two-year $900 million repurchase authorization. As announced last month, the Company’s Board of Directors raised the quarterly cash dividend by 27% to $.14 per share.
Mr. Balmuth noted, “Our recent two-for-one stock split, substantial increase in the quarterly cash dividend and ongoing share repurchase program demonstrate our confidence in the Company’s ability to generate significant amounts of excess cash after self-funding the capital needs of our business. We have repurchased stock as planned every year since 1993 and have also raised our quarterly cash dividend annually since 1994. This consistent record of returning excess cash reflects our commitment to enhancing stockholder value and returns.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, “We believe our ability to offer customers terrific name brand bargains, while running our business with much lower store inventories, remains a key driver of sales growth and operating profitability. This ongoing focus, as well as our history of delivering solid financial results in both healthy and more challenging economic times, gives us the confidence to project respectable increases in both revenues and earnings per share in 2012 and beyond.”
The Company will host a conference call on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time to provide additional details concerning the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 results and management’s outlook and plans for fiscal 2012. A real-time audio webcast of the conference call will be available in the Investors section of the Company’s website, located at www.rossstores.com.