By  on May 14, 2008

TJX Cos. Inc. said Tuesday that first-quarter income increased almost 20 percent as shoppers squeezed by rising gas and food costs and tight credit hunted for lower-priced items.

For the three months ended April 26, income jumped 19.6 percent to $193.8 million, or 11 cents a diluted share, from $162.1 million, or 9 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. The results included a benefit of $12 million, or 2 cents a share, for certain unanticipated tax-related adjustments, compared with the previous year's quarter, which had an aftertax charge of $12 million, or 3 cents a share, in connection with a computer data breach. Sales were up 6.2 percent to $4.36 billion from $4.11 billion on a same-store sales gain of 3 percent.

Despite the jump in income, TJX shares fell 4.6 percent Tuesday to close at $30.65 as the retailer only met Wall Street's expectations.

The discounter, based in Framingham, Mass., operates about 2,600 stores, including TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

"We once again drove strong sales, merchandise margins and profit growth despite the challenges of the consumer environment and unfavorable weather in the first two months," said Carol Meyrowitz, president and chief executive officer.

As TJX moves into the second quarter, she said the company is "well-positioned to continue to capitalize on merchandise opportunities" and deliver value to customers.

The company said it expects second-quarter earnings per share in the range of 40 to 42 cents. For the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2009, TJX said it is maintaining its EPS guidance in the range of $2.20 to $2.25.

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