Ross Stores, Inc. reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended May 4, 2019 of $1.15, up from $1.11 for the same period last year.

Net earnings for the 2019 first quarter were $421 million, compared to $418 million in the prior year. These results include an approximate 2 cents per share benefit from the favorable timing of expenses that are expected to reverse over the balance of the year.

Sales for the period grew 6 percent to $3.8 billion, with comparable store sales up 2 percent.Barbara Rentler, chief executive officer, commented,

“For the first quarter, we delivered sales gains at the high end of our guidance as well as better-than-expected earnings per share growth despite continued underperformance in Ladies apparel. While operating margin of 14.1 percent was down from the prior year, it was above plan mainly due to higher merchandise margin. As expected, this improvement was more than offset by increases in freight and wage costs and the timing of packaway-related expenses that benefited the prior year period.”

Rentler continued, “During the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we repurchased 3.4 million shares of common stock for an aggregate price of $320 million. As planned, we remain on track to buy back a total of $1.275 billion in common stock during fiscal 2019.”

Looking ahead, Rentler said, “For the 13 weeks ending August 3, 2019, we are forecasting same store sales to be up 1 percent to 2 percent on top of a 5 percent gain last year. Second quarter 2019 earnings per share are projected to be $1.06 to $1.11, up from $1.04 in the prior year period.”

Rentler continued, “Based on our first quarter results and guidance for the second quarter, we now project earnings per share for the 52 weeks ending February 1, 2020 to be in the range of $4.38 to $4.52, up from $4.26 last year, which included a $.07 per share benefit in the fourth quarter from the favorable resolution of a tax matter.”