The TJX Cos. Inc. aims to become a $40 billion-plus company and possibly grow to 5,600 stores over the long term.

The company had a great start to fiscal 2017, and on Tuesday posted first-quarter results that beat Wall Street’s consensus estimates.

For the three months ended April 30, net income rose 7.1 percent to $508.3 million, or 76 cents a diluted share, from $474.6 million, or 69 cents, a year ago. Net sales rose 9.9 percent to $7.54 billion from $6.87 billion. Consolidated comparable-store sales was up 7 percent over a 5 percent gain a year ago, and the latest comps gain represented the 29 consecutive quarters of comps growth. Wall Street was expecting 71 cents on revenues of $7.29 billion.

Ernie Herrman, chief executive officer and president, told Wall Street analysts during a conference call that the company saw strong performance of apparel sales in the quarter. “Our eclectic merchandise mix, great brands and amazing values clearly continue to resonate with consumers across all of our geographies. We believe our ability to deliver the right fashions of the right values at the right time is key to our success,” he said.

Given the quarterly results and comp sales increases and the global retail backdrop, Herrman concluded “We are convinced we are growing our customer base and gaining market share.”

The ceo also provided some color to the second quarter, noting that the period is “off to a solid start. We see many near and long-term growth opportunities in the U.S. and internationally to capture market share….Further, we are making strategic investments today to support our growth plans around the world and grow TJX to a $40 billion-plus company.”

Herrman also said the company has some major strengths that differentiate it from other large retailers, whether brick-and-mortar or online, and that those strengths “would be extremely difficult for others to replicate.”

Those strengths include value proposition, which the ceo said the company defines as a combination of brand, fashion, price and quality. Another is its global sourcing network, with includes over 1,000 associates in 11 countries across four continents. Its vendor universe total more than 18,000 vendors in 100-plus countries, Herrman said. The company’s store base totals more than 3,600 stores in nine countries for the Marmaxx, Home Goods, TJX and TJX Canada businesses.

“We buy in many different ways and offer vendors a great deal of flexibility. We are typically willing to purchase less than full assortments of items, styles and sizes and quantities ranging from small to very large. Further, we are straightforward in our dealings and build mutually beneficial relationships for the long-term. All of this allows us to offer consumers an extremely eclectic merchandise mix of well-known and emerging brands from around the world. I’m convinced this helps set us apart from most major retailers both brick-and-mortar and online,” Herrman said.

He said the company is engaging with consumers through television, radio, digital, mobile and social media, and to encourage more frequent visits and cross-shopping, it is growing its loyalty programs. Herrman also said the company is on track to remodel 240 stores “across TJX this year,” and that it has the long-term potential to “grow to 5,600 stores with just our current chains and just our current markets alone.”

The ceo also noted that another advantage making it difficult for competitors to make any inroads in the off-price sector is the company’s low turnover of its 1,000 trained buyers. That’s a point that Herrman said gives TJX both the quantity of buyers and also the quality of the firm’s merchants.

Scott Goldenberg, chief financial officer and executive vice president, said on the call that gross profit margin was 28.8 percent, up 50 basis points compared with last year.

Goldberg said of the business: “During the quarter, we took advantage of some great pack away deals. We fell very comfortable with our inventory liquidity as we enter the second quarter. We are well positioned to capitalize on big opportunities in a marketplace full of quality, branded merchandise.”

For the second quarter, the company guided diluted EPS to between 77 cents and 79 cents, compared with 80 cents a year ago. The company said guidance reflects an assumption that wage increased will negatively impact EPS growth by 3 percent.

The company raised full-year earnings per share and comp sales guidance. For the full year ending Jan. 28, 2017, the company expects diluted EPS between $3.35 and $3.42, a 1 percent to 3 percent gain over $3.33 in fiscal 2016. The outlook is based on a raised estimate of consolidated comps store sales growth of 2 percent to 3 percent.

Cowen & Co.’s Oliver Chen said, “TJX is winning the battle versus department stores by a landslide.” He added that management indicated they are comfortable with the second-quarter inventory position and the “plentiful buying opportunities it sees in the marketplace for quality, branded merchandise.”

Matthew R. Boss from J.P. Morgan said that the TJX model is accelerating globally, which is a competitive advantage versus its domestic peers.

Shares of TJX rose 0.4 percent to $75.52 in early afternoon trading Tuesday.

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