Ross Stores Inc ROST
Q4 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 03/17/2011

Operator: Good morning. Welcome to the Ross Stores' Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2010 Earnings Release Conference Call. The call will begin with prepared comments by Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, followed by a question-and-answer session. As a reminder, today's call is being recorded.

Thank you. At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Balmuth.

Michael Balmuth - VC and CEO: Good morning. Joining me on our call today are Norman Ferber, Chairman of the Board; Michael O'Sullivan, President and Chief Operating Officer; Gary Cribb, Executive Vice President, Stores and Loss Prevention; John Call, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Bobbi Chaville, Senior Director of Investor Relations.

We'll begin today with a review of our fourth quarter and 2010 performance followed by our outlook for 2011. Afterwards, we'll be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

Before we start, I want to note that our comments in this call will contain forward-looking statements regarding expectations about future growth and financial results and other matters that are based on management's current forecast of aspects of the Company's future business. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. These risk factors are detailed in today's press release and our fiscal 2009 Form 10-K, Fiscal 2010 Form 10-Qs and Fiscal 2010 and 2011 Form 8-Ks on file with the SEC.

Earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended January 29, 2011 were $1.37, up from $1.16 for 13 weeks ended January 30, 2010. These results represent a strong 18% increase on top of an exceptional 53% gain in the fourth quarter of 2009. Net earnings for the fourth quarter grew to a record $161.8 million, up 13% from $142.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2009.

For the 52 weeks ended January 29, 2011 earnings per share were $4.63, up a robust 31% on top of a 52% gain in fiscal 2009. Net earnings for fiscal 2010 increased 25% to a record $554.8 million.

Fourth quarter sales rose 8% to $2.145 billion, with comparable store sales up a solid 4%, on top of a 10% gain in the prior year. For the full year, total sales grew 9% to $7.866 billion, with same-store sales up 5% on top of a 6% increase in 2009.

Our better than expected sales for both the quarter and the year benefited from healthy traffic to our stores as an increasing number of shoppers continue to be attracted to our great values. The best performing merchandise areas for the quarter were Junior's and Dresses, with mid-teen and low double-digit percentage gains respectively. For the full year, the strongest businesses were Dresses, Home and Shoes, all with low double-digit same-store sales increases.

Geographic trends were broad-based with all regions posting positive same-store sales increases, for both the quarter and the year, on top of healthy gains in 2009. The standout was Florida, with a low double-digit percentage gain in comparable store sales, for both the fourth quarter and the full year.

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