Retailer TJX (TJX) revealed on Wednesday a narrowed fourth-quarter profit on higher expenses, though its shares still swung ahead of Wall Street estimates on improved results in comparable stores.

The Framingham, Mass.-based company posted net income of $334.4 million, or 84 cents a share, compared with $394.9 million, or 94 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, TJX earned $1.05 a share, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.02.

Revenue for the off-price apparel and home fashions retailer, operating under names such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, was $6.33 billion, up 7% from $5.9 billion a year ago, off narrowly from the Street’s view of $6.34 billion. Sales were fueled by a 2% increase in comparable store sales over the prior year’s 12% increase.

Carol Meyrowitz, TJX’s chief executive, said she was very proud of the results, noting the bottom line grew “substantially over extraordinary growth in the prior year.”

“I am even prouder of our company's ability to grow our revenues and earnings year after year, through economic downturns and upturns,” she said. “This speaks to the extraordinary flexibility of our off-price business model and our ability to successfully utilize that flexibility to our advantage.”

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls led the surge in revenue, up a combined 5.2% to $4 billion, helped by 3% growth in comparable store sales, building on a 13% increase last year. Markets outside the U.S. followed, with Canada and Europe up 11% and 5.1%, respectively.

Despite the solid performance however, higher sales kept its profit below year ago results. Cost of sales, including buying and occupancy costs, grew 7% to $4.6 billion. Selling, general and administration expenses ticked 17% higher to $1.1 billion. 

In an effort to return value to shareholders, the retailer’s board authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $1 billion of its stock, with the intent being to buyback roughly $1.2 billion shares through 2011. The company also plans on upping its dividend to 19 cents a share, with the dividend to be declared in April and payable in June. The payout would represent a 27% increase on its current dividend.

Looking ahead, the company sees fiscal 2012 earnings in the range of $3.63 to $3.78 a share, which represents a 10% to 15% increase year-over-year. Excluding special items, the TJX anticipates earnings growth between $3.78 and $3.93, in line with Wall Street estimates of $3.82 a share.

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