Shares of Ross Stores Inc. rose more than 11% late Thursday after the retailer reported second-quarter earnings and sales above Wall Street expectations and forecast sales and earnings growth for the second half of the year and for the full fiscal year. Ross said it earned $317 million, or 82 cents a share, in the quarter, compared to $282 million, or 71 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter. Sales rose 8% to $3.43 billion, from $3.18 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 76 cents a share on sales of $3.37 billion. Comparable-store sales were up 4% on top of 4% growth last year, the company said in a statement. An operating margin of 14.9% outperformed the company's projections, "mainly due to a combination of higher merchandise margin and leverage on our above-plan sales gains," Ross said. Ross forecast same-store sales gains between 1% and 2% in the third quarter, and third-quarter per-share earnings to be between 64 cents and 67 cents, up from 62 cents a share in the third quarter of 2016 and compared with analyst expectations of 67 cents. The company forecast fourth-quarter same-store sales growth of 1% to 2%, with per-share earnings between 88 cents and 92 cents. Based on the results for the first half of the year, the company guided for fiscal 2017 per-share earnings to rise 12% to 14% to between $3.16 and $3.23. The analysts surveyed by FactSet expect full-year EPS of $3.17 for Ross. Shares ended the regular trading session down 1.9%.
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