Ross Stores, Inc. reported earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended July 31, 2021 grew 22 percent to $1.39 on net income of $494 million. This compares to $1.14 per share on net earnings of $413 million for the 13 weeks ended August 3, 2019. Sales rose 21 percent to $4.8 billion, with comparable-store sales up a robust 15 percent.

For the six months ended July 31, 2021, earnings per share were $2.73 on net earnings of $971 million, up from $2.29 per share on net income of $834 million for the same period in 2019. Sales for the first half of 2021 rose 20 percent to $9.3 billion, with comparable-store sales up 14 percent.

Barbara Rentler, CEO, commented, “We are pleased that both second-quarter sales and earnings substantially exceeded our expectations. Sales benefited from customers’ positive response to our broad assortment of great bargains. In addition, our results were bolstered by a number of external factors, including ongoing government stimulus, increasing vaccination rates and diminishing COVID restrictions. Operating margin versus 2019 improved to 14.1 percent as leverage from the robust sales gains was partially offset by the anticipated expense pressures from higher freight, wage, and COVID-related costs.”

Rentler continued, “During the second quarter, we repurchased 1.4 million shares of common stock for an aggregate price of $176 million. As previously announced, we expect to buy back a total of $650 million in common stock during fiscal 2021.”

Rentler further noted, “Looking ahead, there remains much uncertainty regarding the sustainability of the positive external factors that benefited our first-half results as well as the potential risks we may face from the spread of COVID variants and worsening industry-wide supply chain congestion. As a result, we are forecasting third-quarter same-store sales to be up 5 percent to 7 percent with earnings per share in the range of $0.61 to $0.69. This guidance reflects our expectation for escalating freight and supply chain costs and ongoing COVID-related operating expenses.”

Rentler added, “Based on first-half results and our third-quarter outlook, we are updating our fiscal year 2021 earnings per share forecast to be in the range of $4.20 to $4.38 on a comparable store sales gain of 10 percent to 11 percent.”

Rentler concluded, “Moving forward, we remain optimistic about our prospects for continued growth in both sales and profitability over the longer term, especially given consumers’ increasing focus on value and convenience. Moreover, the significant number of retail closures and bankruptcies in recent years further enhances our ability to gain additional market share in the future.”

Photo courtesy Ross Stores, Barbara Rentler