(By Balaseshan) TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) shares gained in the early trade after the off-price apparel retailer raised its earnings forecast following better-than-expected quarterly results.
Net earnings increased to $461.55 million or $0.62 per share for the third quarter from $406.49 million or $0.53 per share in the year-ago quarter. Foreign currency exchange rates had a neutral impact on earnings per share, compared with a $0.01 per share positive impact last year.
Sales rose 11 percent to $6.41 billion. Comparable store sales gained 7 percent benefiting from strong growth in customer traffic.
Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.61 per share on sales of $6.39 billion for the third quarter.
Gross profit margin rose 0.7 percentage points to 28.8 percent, driven entirely by merchandise margin improvement partially offset by a negative impact from mark-to-market adjustments on the company's inventory-related hedges.
Looking ahead for the fourth quarter, TJX forecasts earnings per share between 72 cents and 75 cents, coming in shy of consensus estimate of 76 cents. Comparable store sales growth is expected between flat and 2 percent. Adjusted earnings is projected to be in the range of $0.65 to $0.68 per share.
For the full year ending January 2013, the company now expects earnings per share in the range of $2.45 to $2.48 from prior expectations of $2.44 to $2.47, while analysts expect earnings of $2.49 per share. Excluding estimated benefit from the 53rd week in the fiscal 2013 calendar, the adjusted earnings is projected in the range of $2.38 to $2.41 per share.
The stock is trading up 0.83 percent at $41.31 on Tuesday. Shares of the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company have been trading the 52-week range between $29.05 and $46.67.