Ross Stores' March Comps Take off - Analyst Blog

By Zacks Equity Research,

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The largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in U.S., Ross Stores Inc. ( ROST ) came up with stronger-than-expected sales and same store sales numbers for the five weeks ended March 31, 2012.

Ross Stores' same-store sales in March 2012 grew 10% from last year. Also, for the nine-week period through March 31, 2012, the company registered a 10% year-over-year increase in same-store sales.

Ross Stores' sales for the month of March jumped 15% from the year-ago comparable period (five weeks ended April 2, 2011). Net sales for the month of March reached $955 million versus $828 million reported last year.

For the nine-week period ended March 31, 2012, the company's sales totaled $1,632 million, again an increase of 15% from $1,423 million in the same period last year.

Robust sales in the month of March were mainly attributed to favorable weather across the markets where the company operates and its continued focus on value, which boosted the company's merchandise and geographic sales.

The company pointed out that holiday shifts, such as an early Easter this year, lend uncertainty to sales projections. However, the company expects to do well this season and forecasts April same store sales to be up 1% to 2%.

On the back of a remarkable comps performance so far in this quarter, management raised its earnings forecast for the first quarter of 2012. The company now expects earnings per share to come in the range of 89 cents to 91 cents, compared with the prior guidance of 82 cents to 86 cents, and reflects a 20% to 23% increase from previous year's earnings of 74 cents per share.

On the same day, two other Apparel store retailers Gap Inc. ( GPS ) and Nordstrom Inc. ( JWN ) reported positive same store sales for the month of March 2012. Comps growth at Gap was 8% in March, while Nordstrom recorded an 8.6% rise.

Ross' shares maintain a Zacks #2 Rank, which translates into a short-term Buy rating. We have a long-term Outperform recommendation on the stock.

GAP INC ( GPS ): Free Stock Analysis Report
NORDSTROM INC ( JWN ): Free Stock Analysis Report
ROSS STORES ( ROST ): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks
Referenced Stocks: GPS , JWN , ROST

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