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Ross Profits Jump 23.3%

Offpricer continues to buy back stock as it grows.

A Ross store

Ross Stores Inc.’s fourth-quarter profits advanced 23.3 percent as the 1,091-door offpricer logged another strong year.

Fourth-quarter profits rose to $236.6 million, or $1.07 a diluted share, from $192 million, or 85 cents, a year earlier. Earnings met analysts’ projections and shares of the retailer inched up 0.6 percent to $56.52 in early trading on Wall Street.

Sales for the three months ended Feb. 2 increased 15.1 percent to $2.76 billion from $2.4 billion as comparable-store sales rose 5 percent.

Last year, the company repurchased 7.5 million shares of its common stock for a total of $450 million and posted profits of $786.8 million on sales of $9.72 billion. In January, the retailer also boosted its quarterly dividend by 21 percent to 17 cents a share.

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“The growth of our stock repurchase and dividend programs has been driven by the significant amounts of cash our business generates after self-funding store expansion and other capital needs,” said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer.

The offpricer has repurchased stock every year since 1993 and has boosted its cash dividend 19 times since 1994.

“We plan to stay intently focused on our core off-price mission of consistently delivering great bargains to our customers,” Balmuth said. “This continues to be the key to maximizing our opportunities for growth in sales and profits over both the short and the long term.”