PLEASANTON, Calif., May 17, 2012 –Ross Stores, Inc. today reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended April 28, 2012 of $.93, up from a split-adjusted $.74 for the 13 weeks ended April 30, 2011. These results represent a 26% increase on top of a 28% gain in last year’s first quarter. Net earnings for the 2012 first quarter grew to $208.6 million, up 21% from $173.0 million in the prior year. Sales for the quarter ended April 28, 2012 increased 14% to $2.357 billion, with comparable store sales up a strong 9% on top of a 3% gain in 2011.
Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are pleased with our much better-than-expected financial results in the first quarter. Our robust sales and earnings were driven mainly by our ongoing ability to deliver a wide array of fresh and exciting name brand bargains to today’s value-focused consumers. In addition, we believe that favorable weather across many of our markets also contributed to our above-plan performance.”
Mr. Balmuth continued, “Operating margin for the period grew about 70 basis points to a record 14.4% driven primarily by leverage on selling, general and administrative expenses from the robust gains in same store sales. Cost of goods sold as a percent of sales improved by 15 basis points from the prior year, as higher merchandise gross margin and leverage on occupancy were partially offset by increases in distribution, freight and buying costs.”
Mr. Balmuth also noted, “We continued to enhance stockholder returns through our stock repurchase and dividend programs in the first quarter. During the first three months of fiscal 2012, we repurchased 2.0 million shares of common stock for an aggregate price of $111 million. We remain on track to buy back a total of $450 million in common stock during fiscal 2012 to complete the two-year $900 million program authorized in early 2011.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, “For the second quarter ending July 28, 2012, we are now forecasting same store sales to increase 3% to 4% and earnings per share of $.72 to $.75, up from last year’s $.64. This represents 13% to 17% projected growth on top of a 20% increase in the second quarter of 2011. In addition, we are raising our 2012 earnings per share guidance for the 53 weeks ending February 2, 2013 to $3.26 to $3.37, above our initial guidance of $3.12 to $3.27 and compared to $2.86 in fiscal 2011.”
Commenting on the Company’s future expansion plans, Mr. Balmuth said, “We are pleased to announce that we have increased our long-term projected store potential to 2,500 locations in the United States. Our current research and proven ability to cluster stores closer together indicate that we can more fully saturate existing and new markets. As a result, we now believe that Ross Dress for Less can grow to approximately 2,000 locations across the country, up from our prior target of 1,500. We continue to believe that dd’s DISCOUNTS can become a chain of about 500 stores. Combined, we therefore have the ability over time to more than double the size of our Company domestically.”
The Company will provide additional details about its first quarter results and management’s outlook for the second quarter on a conference call to be held on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. Participants may listen to a real time audio webcast of the conference call by visiting the Investors section of the Company’s website located at www.rossstores.com. A recorded version of the call will also be available at the website address, and via a telephone recording through 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 404-537-3406, ID # 80147849.