Ross Stores surpassed all expectations for fourth-quarter results as it issued relatively conservative guidance for the year ahead.
In the three months ended Jan. 31, the Dublin, Calif.-based off-price retailer outdid even the stellar results of its larger off-price rival, The TJX Cos. Inc., that were reported early Wednesday.
Net income advanced 14.2 percent to $248.5 million, or $1.20 a diluted share, from $217.6 million, or $1.02, in the prior-year quarter as revenues advanced 10.6 percent to $3.03 billion from $2.74 billion. Comparable-store sales were up 6 percent in the three months.
Analysts, on average, expected EPS of $1.11 on revenues of $2.93 billion.
But Ross stuck with its tendency to project conservatively in facing the new year. First-quarter comps are seen growing 2 to 3 percent and earnings are seen landing between $1.21 and $1.26, below the $1.29 expected, on average, by analysts. For the full year, comps are expected to grow less, rising 1 to 2 percent, while profits are seen moving to between $4.60 and $4.80, with the upper figure just 1 cent above the current consensus estimate.
“As we enter 2015, we continue to face ongoing uncertainty and volatility in the macroeconomic and retail climates, said Barbara Rentler, chief executive officer. “While we hope to do better, based on these external factors and our own challenging multiyear sales and earnings comparisons, we are remaining somewhat cautious in our outlook.”
The company authorized $1.4 billion for stock repurchases over the next two years, which would amount to about 7 percent of its market value at recent stock prices. It also raised its quarterly cash dividend 18 percent to 23.5 cents a share, payable March 31 to shareholders of record March 9.
For the full year, net income rose 9.2 percent to $924.7 million, or $4.42 a diluted share, while revenues were up 7.9 percent to $11.04 billion.