Ross keeps rolling with discount philosophy

Off price retailer Ross Stores achieved record fourth quarter sales and earnings and expects to deliver more of the same in 2013 thanks to an unwavering commitment to offering great bargains.

Sales for the 14 week fourth quarter ended February 2, increased 15% to $2.76 billion when compared to the prior year’s 13 week fourth quarter. Same store sales advanced 5% on top of a prior year gain of 7%. Earnings per share for the period increased to $1.07 from 85 cents last year and net income grew to $236.6 million from $192 million.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented,

"We are pleased with the record sales and earnings we delivered in the fourth quarter and 2012 fiscal year, especially considering they were achieved on top of strong multi-year gains," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO. "Results for both periods benefited from our ongoing ability to deliver compelling bargains on a wide assortment of exciting name brand fashions for the family and the home to today's value-focused consumers."

For the full 53 week fiscal year, sales increased 13% to slightly more than $9.7 billion, comps increased 6%, earnings per share grew to $3.53 from $2.86 when compared to the 52 week prior fiscal year. Net income increased to $786.8 million compared to $657.2 million.

"We plan to stay intently focused on our core off-price mission of consistently delivering great bargains to our customers," Balmuth said. "This continues to be the key to maximizing our opportunities for growth in sales and profits over both the short and the long term."

While the company’s strategy won’t change, one shift that may not sit well with some investors is the suspension of monthly sales reports. Ross said it would discontinue the practice beginning with the second quarter.

"Reporting sales quarterly aligns us with the majority of other retailers who have already adopted this practice, while also increasing the focus on longer-term performance," Balmuth said.

Ross ended the year with 1,091 stores in 33 states and 108 dd’s Discount stores in eight states.