It appears that there were a lot of discounted gifts changing hands this past holiday season.
While several companies have posted less than rosy fourth-quarter sales numbers, off-price retailer T.J. Maxx’s parent company TJX Cos. Inc. was not one of them.
Net sales in the fourth quarter came in at $11.1 billion, 2 percent higher than a year earlier, while comparable store sales were up 6 percent on the back of an uptick in bargain-hunting consumers walking through its doors, attracted by a plethora of deep discounts. Wall Street had been expecting a 3.5 percent increase in comparable sales.
Christina Boni, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s, said, “The off-price sector appears to have again taken market share this holiday season, evidenced by TJX’s strong comp store sales of a 6 percent increase.”
It was not all good news on the profit front for the company, which also owns HomeGoods and Marshalls. Net income was $842 million, or diluted earnings per share of 68 cents, lower than last year’s $877.3 million, or 69 cents per share.
Nevertheless, it revealed plans to boost its dividend to be declared in April and payable in June by 18 percent to 23 cents per share. This will mark the 23rd consecutive year that the it has raised the dividend.
It also plans to repurchase as much as $2.25 billion of TJX stock during the fiscal year ending Feb. 1, 2020.
Ernie Herrman, chief executive officer and president of The TJX Cos. Inc., said: “We’re planning a strong increase to our regular quarterly dividend and to continue our significant buyback program. These actions underscore our confidence in our ability to continue delivering strong, profitable sales and cash flow that enables us to both fund our continued growth and return value to our shareholders.”
Its stock price was up $1.84, or 3.7 percent, to $51.56.