Ross Stores, Inc. reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended May 4, 2024 of $1.46 on net earnings of $488 million. These results compare to earnings per share of $1.09 on net income of $371 million for the 13 weeks ended April 29, 2023. Sales for the first quarter of 2024 grew 8 percent to $4.9 billion, up from $4.5 billion in the prior year period, with comparable sales up 3 percent versus last year.

Barbara Rentler, CEO, commented, “Though we had hoped to do better, first quarter sales were in line with guidance despite macroeconomic headwinds that continued to pressure our customers’ discretionary spending. Earnings results for the period were better-than-expected primarily due to lower expenses relative to our plan.”

Rentler continued, “Operating margin of 12.2 percent rose 205 basis points compared to 10.1 percent in last year’s first quarter. This improvement was primarily driven by lower distribution, incentive and freight costs that were partially offset by the planned decline in merchandise margin.”

During the first quarter of fiscal 2024, a total of 1.9 million shares of common stock were repurchased for an aggregate price of $262 million under the company’s new two-year $2.1 billion authorization approved by its Board of Directors in March 2024. The company remains on track to buy back a total of $1.05 billion in common stock during fiscal 2024.

Fiscal 2024 Guidance
Looking ahead, Rentler shared, “Ongoing uncertainty in today’s macroeconomic and geopolitical environments, including prolonged inflation, continue to squeeze our low-to-moderate income customers’ purchasing power. As a result, we believe it is more important than ever to offer our customers the best branded values possible. In addition, we will continue to manage inventory and expenses tightly in order to maximize sales and earnings growth over the balance of the year.

“For the 13 weeks ending August 3, 2024, comparable store sales are projected to increase 2 percent to 3 percent on top of a 5 percent gain in the second quarter of last year. Earnings per share for the second quarter are projected to be in the range of $1.43 to $1.49, up from reported earnings per share of $1.32 for the prior year period ended July 29, 2023.

“Based on our first quarter results and forward guidance, comparable store sales for the 52 weeks ending February 1, 2025 remain unchanged at up 2 percent to 3 percent, with earnings per share for the 2024 fiscal year now projected to be in the range of $5.79 to $5.98 versus $5.56 for the 53 weeks ended February 3, 2024. As a reminder, fiscal 2023 earnings per share included a benefit of approximately $0.20 from the 53rd week.”

Image courtesy Ross Stores