Ross remains a value leader

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Ross Stores has emerged as one of those value retailers that has shined during the recent economic downturn. The company once again reported strong earnings and sales growth for the fourth quarter and fiscal year, showing that while the economy may be improving, value remains an important concern for consumers.

The company reported earnings per share for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29 of $1.37, up from $1.16 for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, 2010.  Net earnings for the 2010 fourth quarter grew to $161.8 million, up 13% from $142.9 million in the prior year.  Sales for the fourth quarter ended grew 8% to $2.145 billion, with comparable-store sales up 4% on top of a 10% gain in 2009.

For the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, earnings per share were $4.63, up a robust 31% on top of a 52% gain in fiscal 2009 when earnings per share totaled $3.54.  Net earnings for fiscal 2010 grew 25% to a record $554.8 million, from $442.8 million in the prior year.  Sales for fiscal 2010 rose 9% to $7.866 billion, with same-store sales up 5% on top of a 6% increase in 2009.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO, commented, "We are extremely pleased with our robust sales and earnings gains for the fourth quarter and full year that were well ahead of our expectations. This strong growth is even more notable considering that it was on top of very large increases in the prior year. These results demonstrate that we continue to benefit from our favorable position as a value retailer as well as the efficient execution of our off-price strategies."

Looking ahead, Balmuth said, "We believe that the current record level of operating profitability we achieved in 2010 is sustainable, mainly due to our ongoing ability to offer customers desirable name-brand bargains while running our business with much lower inventory levels. Reducing the amount of merchandise in our stores has stimulated sales growth by increasing the freshness of our assortments.  It has also been a key driver of record levels of merchandise gross margin, as faster inventory turns have resulted in much lower markdowns as a percent of sales.  Going forward, we remain confident that our steadfast focus on diligently executing our off-price strategies will enable us to continue to deliver compelling bargains and achieve our targets for both sales and earnings growth in 2011 and beyond."

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