Ross Stores 1Q Narrowly Trumps Street, Fiscal View Still Weak

Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) leveraged tighter costs to book a slightly stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit, though the company still predicts a weak full-year performance.

While the company raised its fiscal earnings forecast to a range of $5.16 to $5.31 a share from its earlier guidance of $4.90 to $5.10 a share, the outlook is still short of current Wall Street estimates of $5.36.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based off-price retailer of apparel, footwear and home accessories posted net earnings of $173 million, or $1.48 a share, compared with $142.3 million, or $1.16 a share, in the same quarter last year.

The company saw its margins improved with the help of lower occupancy, distribution and operating costs.

Revenue for the three months ended April 30 was $2.1 billion, up 7% from $1.9 billion a year ago. The results narrowly beat the Streets view of $2.04 billion for revenue and $1.47 for earnings.

“We are pleased to report that both sales and earnings in the first quarter were better than expected, with solid gains on top of very tough comparisons in the prior year,” Ross Stores CEO Michael Balmuth said in a statement. “These results were mainly driven by our ongoing ability to deliver a wide array of compelling name-brand bargains to today's value-focused customers, while operating our business on leaner in-store inventories.”

For the second quarter, Ross Stores anticipates earnings in the range of $1.15 to $1.20 a share. Analysts are looking for earnings of $1.27.