Ross Stores, Inc. reported that sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 2, 2010 increased 6% to $666 million from $629 million a year ago.  Same store sales for the month rose 2% on top of an 8% gain in the prior year.

For the eight months, sales totaled $5.121 billion, up 10% over the $4.647 billion a year ago. Comparable store sales increased 6% on top of a 4% gain in 2009.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “While we experienced unseasonably warm weather during the month in many of our core markets, we still were able to achieve same store sales at the high end of our expectations. Dresses and Home were the top merchandise categories during the month, while Florida was the best-performing market.”

Looking ahead, Balmuth said, “I am pleased to report that earnings per share for the 13 weeks ending October 30, 2010 are now projected to be in the range of $.94 to $.96, compared to $.84 in last year's third quarter.  The forecasted upside from our previous earnings per share guidance of $.79 to $.83 is being driven mainly by much better-than-expected shortage results from our annual physical inventory of stores in September along with other favorable gross margin trends.  Our lower projected shrink expense for 2010 reflects the significant progress we have made over the past few years in successfully implementing our shortage control initiatives.  Our updated third quarter guidance also reflects our continued expectation for October same store sales to be flat to up 1%.”

Balmuth concluded, “For the fourth quarter ending January 29, 2011, we continue to project comparable store sales to be flat to down 1% and earnings per share of $1.15 to $1.20.  For the 2010 fiscal year ending January 29, 2011, earnings per share now are forecast to be in the range of $4.33 to $4.40, a projected increase of 22% to 24% over $3.54 in fiscal 2009.”